TIFTON — Author and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College professor Jeff Newberry recently launched his fifth book at an Oct. 22 book launch. Titled “Cross Country,” it’s a poetry book coauthored with friend and fellow writer, Justin Evans, who lives in Colorado.
Though Newberry and Evans have never met face to face, the two have a long friendship of exchanging poems about traveling, politics and life’s hardships. Twelve years ago, the two poets met from their online poetry blogs and began sharing their work with each other.
After years of exchanging poetry and challenging each other to be more creative, the friends decided they had enough poems to publish a book together. Newberry began organizing which poems from the two’s large archive would go in with Evan’s from long distance.
According to Newberry, “Cross Country” uses a musical idea called modality. The idea that everything belongs, and you can put any note anywhere. Newberry and Evans used this idea to craft their poetry book. The poems are about a list of different topics, but somehow, they all fit and go together.
According to Newberry, the book quickly became centered around America.
Some of the poems published in “Cross Country” were written during the 2016 presidential election, inspiring the political content featured in the book. National tragedies are also touched on. One of the poems written by Evans in the book is about the Sandy Hook school shooting.
A Florida native, Newberry’s poems in the book dive into his battle with self-confidence and insecurities about his body growing up. One of his poems he read from the book at the Oct. 22 launch was about dealing with his daughter’s condition, spina bifida, and raising his son.
The dean of the ABAC School of Arts and Science, Mathew Anderson, is thrilled to have an author like Newberry teaching students.
“Jeff is a tremendous benefit because our students are learning from a gifted artist,” said Anderson. “He is an immensely talented man and I love that our students have the opportunity to learn from a professor who has published poetry, novels and books.”
Fellow ABAC professor and friend, Wendy Harrison, described her colleague’s passion and work-ethic inside and outside the classroom.
“Jeff is one of our most generous faculty members,” said Harrison. “He uses his talents to inspire both students and colleagues. It isn’t unusual to come by his office and see him and a student conferring about a student’s work or mentoring faculty.”
According to Newberry, because he is a southerner, he feels like that gives him an extra edge as a storyteller because of those roots.
“I changed my bio to say Jeff Newberry is a story-teller,” said Newberry. “I think that the story telling tradition runs very strongly in all human cultures, but I think it’s more under the surface of the southern skin in the South.”
“Cross Country” is available on Amazon and the website, http://www.jeffnewberry.com/cross-country.html.