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Hey Chad: Traveler,Teacher, and Teller of Stories

AmyClaire Mugno, Writer and Editor

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Here, there, and back again. The new Creative Writing/English teacher at Arkansas High, Mr. Chad Matthews, is every traveling journalist’s dream and teaching is just a minute detail of his life. Growing up in Texarkana and graduating from Pleasant Grove, Matthews knew he was destined for more than what Texarkana had to offer. He got his undergraduate in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and came back to the natural state to get his master’s degree in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He remembers the first time he decided to write. ¨I remember the exact day,¨ he reminisced . ¨I met a homeless woman, and I wanted to write her a story. Her name was Evelyn. People have these ideas about people living on the street and this woman was unlike any of these stereotypes. She was very loving and very kind. I just wanted to write her a story.¨ Today he continues to write to change the way people see the world. 

The first book that Matthews published was based on his encounters with Evelyn. Titled  Dear Evelyn, he wrote this book after spending a year living as a homeless person on the street. ¨I’ve literally been everywhere,¨ he laughed. Matthews traveled to the 60 largest cities in the U.S. and spent a week in each location. ¨I’ve been to every state other than Alaska,” he said. This journey took him 65,000 miles which would wrap around the Earth three times he happily mentioned. The last six months of this journey, a camera crew followed him around and documented his life in a film titled The Cries of the Broken. Matthews wanted to “understand the struggle people were experiencing on the street” rather than just interview them. After such a humbling experience, Matthews said that he now sees how easily people can fall into these holes. He no longer feels like a judgmental person and genuinely loves and cares about people.

Some people have quotes that inspire the way they live. Matthew said ¨I have something better. I have a tattoo of a rhino on my back.” He explained that rhinos weigh 5,000 pounds, run 35 miles per hour, and have terrible eyesight. When they run, it’s called a crash because they can only see 30 ft. in front of them, so they just crash into whatever they approach. “That’s kind of how I live. I don’t let anything get in my way. If there’s an obstacle, I just run through it.”

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 During the summer of 2018, Matthews will be releasing a new book titled  Nocturnal Grief, a collection of poems centered on the stories he witnessed while living on the streets. Matthews chose poetry simply because he “couldn’t write it in any other form.”  As a collection of things Matthews has experienced during the last ten years of his life, these poems are written from his perspective as well as the perspectives of families and others he met along the way. The poems expose the “fringes of society” as well challenge the stereotypical view people have on the homeless. To continue following Matthews on his journey, check out his blog: http://heychad.com

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Hey Chad: Traveler,Teacher, and Teller of Stories”

  1. Jen Mugno on January 24th, 2018 4:29 PM

    Great article!!!

    [Reply]

  2. Jen Mugno on January 24th, 2018 4:30 PM

    Great article!!

    [Reply]

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