After nearly 15 years and approximately 1,000 rejections from publishers and agents, an Upper Iowa University alumnus has realized a dream by having his first book published. Chris Pascale ’11 explains War Poems: A Marine’s Tour 2003-2008 is a mixture of classic poetry and a coming-of-age memoir that provides clear context of the emotional turmoil he experienced as a Marine combat engineer.
“Initially, writing poetry was a way for me to express myself in a way that I enjoyed, but following my deployment to Falluja from February to September, 2005, it became a necessary way for me to deal with the depression and PTSD I was experiencing,” Pascale said. “All of it was exacerbated by the financial hardships that came with $4-a-gallon gas and a growing family, and on a corporal’s wages.”
The poems were written during Pascale’s military service from 2003-2008. In 2012, his uncle and author, Dr. Rob Pascale recommended that he create a central theme, surrounded by his poetry, and provide introductions to each piece. The UIU graduate admits this advice made his work less a collection of abstract art that sometimes requires pieces to be reexamined into a more fluent story that can be understood the first time it is read.
“The truth is that I’ve been fighting to get individual stories and poems published since 2001,” the aspiring author said. “The process has been so difficult that even extremely negative feedback was welcomed with open arms. I had some periods where I considered quitting writing altogether, and due to the stress it was causing me, my wife, Kristeena, even once asked me to stop in 2012.”
Pascale realized his dream when Merriam Press, which specializes in military history, agreed to publish War Poems, now available for purchase nationwide. With a renewed enthusiasm, the 34-year-old is currently working on writing a novel set to be released in 2018 and another book of poetry called Non-War Poems: 2000-2015.
“Without a doubt, the marketing education I received while attending UIU helped my approach to this entire process, and it was only after graduating from UIU in 2011 that I began to have a few poems published,” Pascale said.
In addition to UIU and his uncle, Chris is thankful for his wife’s advice and guidance – it was actually Kristeena Pascale’s ’11 service with the Army at Fort Polk in Louisiana from 2009-2012 that brought the couple to UIU via its satellite campus. Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, while Kristeena earned a bachelor’s degree in social science. The couple resides in Long Island, New York, with their four children.
“Not only does Upper Iowa University have fantastic professors who come from all walks of life, but the entire institution is so friendly to all the military families,” concluded the recently published author. “Excelling at UIU got me accepted into two very competitive graduate programs (Stony Brook University and St. Joseph’s) that I have since completed. Both Kathleen and I feel extremely lucky that our military service introduced us to UIU.”