Seton Hall 2003 alumni Neal Sehgal published a collection of poetry and photography called RISE, which explores the themes of love, loss, spirituality, living one’s truth, and finding a way to triumph over those who try to pull you down.
Sehgal’s experiences in the last three to four years involving a devastating breakup was the inspiration that drove him to create this uplifting book. “I wasn’t sure I was writing a book, when I wrote the book,” Sehgal said. “The themes came from emotions and reflections because of what I was going through at the time. I never set out to write a book—through jotting down my thoughts, it turned into this piece.”
Sehgal has always been involved with writing. He is currently an English teacher for students in grades six through high school. Sehgal has a deep-seated love for language. “I love how words come together and express certain things through a musical quality,” Sehgal. said. “If you implement it in a certain way words can be presented to people as music, that’s where poetry fits in, in the absence of instrumental influence words have their own rhythm and rhyme.”
Sehgal is a New Jersey purist. He traveled with his Chihuahua through the tri-state area and took the photographs used in his book. “Everything kind of melted together,” Sehgal said. The pictures that correlate with the poems were not specifically taken to accompany a specific piece of his book; the pictures were an addition to amplify the emotions of each poem.
Considering the book is about overcoming obstacles and rising in the face of adversity, Steph Morrone, junior sports management major said, “As a college student this book would be very beneficial through heartbreak and breakdowns as a reminder to keep pushing on!”
Sehgal decided to publish his own book and donate them to non-profit organizations in order to help others. He donated his book to places such as, Homeless Solutions, Morris County Juvenile Detention Center, libraries, Battered Women’s Shelter and animal shelters.
Roberto Bonelli, founder of Animals Battalion, one of the non-profits that Sehgal donated his book to, said, “the running narrative throughout RISE is rising above our current and possibly negative situation into a new state of being/enlightenment.” He continued, “This is a book of epiphanies and thoughtful reflections that can only come when we manage to break away from the chaos of everyday.”
The marketing strategy was aligning the message of the book. Sehgal did not write a book just to write a book—so he didn’t feel the need to market it. He explained that marketing the work would have benefitted himself and he wanted to benefit others.
“I don’t want idolatry from this book,” said Sehgal. “It makes me uncomfortable when people thank me because it’s not a ‘Neal thing’ it probably just means they’re feeling the exact emotions I experienced. If you can feel something and understand something, you can overcome it. You understand how to move forward after self-reflecting—and that is exactly what I did through my book.”
Christina McDonald-Vitale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.