Monday, April 03, 2006
Edward J. Carvalho is a twice nominated Pushcart Prize writer, who has been writing poetry for over 20 years. He is the author of several chapbooks, and is shopping around a manuscript “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” His poetry has been admired by Martin Espada and Nobel-prize winner Elie Wiesel. Carvalho’s poetry has been published in journals around the country. He holds an M.F. A. in Creative writing from Goddard College and will be pursuing his PhD. I spoke with Carvalho on my SCAT TV program: “Poet to Poet/ Writer to Writer.”
Doug Holder: Tell me why you chose the Thomas Hobbes quote for your manuscript “… the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short?” Is it?
Ed Carvalho: I always run the risk when I use a quote like this as coming across as a guy who probably lives a life like this. I chose this quote because there was an ethics class in the early 90’s when I was in college. I was an undergrad and Thomas Hobbes philosophy of mechanistic materialism had a cynical edge to it. I thought he had a very honest appraisal of life. I really do believe in many cases that the life of man is solitary, brutish and short. The philosophy of Hobbes stayed with me. It kind of came out in the poetry manuscript. It has become a theme for me.
Doug Holder: We all “affect,” a style, whatever walk of life we come from. You wear a leather jacket, a formidable goatee, a tight fitting black wool cap…you look like a biker.
What’s the deal?
Ed Carvalho: People always ask me: “Do you have a motorcycle,” and I say: “No, I have a Honda Civic.” I grew up in New England my whole life. I had ski hats since I was a little kid…winters can be brutal. It became how people recognized me. I’d go out to bars…I used to sing in a local band…certain things become part of the consciousness of people.
Doug Holder: Where did you get the title for your literary blog “The Outlaw Goatee??”
Ed Carvalho: I was reading old, old laws that are still on the books in the Commonwealth. One of the laws states that is illegal to have a goatee in the Commonwealth unless it is registered. I thought in a poetic way it was funny. So I refuse to register my goatee!
Doug Holder: In your poem: “sometime boy”, you write:
“what happens to the life of a man,
when it sags, like that toothpick,
from the corner of your lips
is chewn by dentures
to its very end?”
Are you afraid that question will not be answered. That you, yourself, will be trivially defined at the end of your life?
Ed Carvalho: It’s a great question. I do fear not leaving some kind of mark, not living up to my potential. In the poem the observed character, was dreaming about things that he may not have realized. Maybe he was a “sometime boy,” that missed his calling, or opportunity. This was one of the things I was thinking of when I was writing the poem. I am always thinking about if I am on the right track.
Doug Holder: Your work has been described as brutal. Has your life been brutal?
Ed Carvalho: Well... a white kid growing up in suburban Connecticut…it’s hard for me to say that. I think we all have our own “human closet,” or “skeletons.” My mother was very sick when I was a boy and she died when I was in my twenties. These types of personal experiences have left me with a lot of anger. In that respect, yeah, I do bring a lot of my personal things in. I try to reflect on things that are personable as much as possible.
Doug Holder: You have taught poetry workshops at the “Out of the Blue Art Gallery,” in Cambridge, Mass. How do you approach the novice poet?
Ed Carvalho: I will find something that everyone can grab on to. Something from their everyday lives. I use as an example the poet Martin Espada. I think what gives him that mass appeal is that he is very democratic and grabs on to things that the layperson and poet can appreciate.
Doug Holder: What was your experience at Goddard College like? Are MFA programs factories?
Ed Carvalho: I can see how some programs can be factory-like. Goddard celebrated the individual. My work was very different from other poets at the program, but everyone was allowed to create their own little gem. It was a time of heightened inspiration.
Doug Holder: Disparate writers like Martin Espada and Eli Wiesel have admired your work. Why?
Ed Carvalho: I worked with Espada last summer. And I think we hit it off. I did an interview with him for the “Heat City Review.” We have a Whitman connection. He pulled me aside once and said: “You got it.” I got a letter from Wiesel in response to a poem I sent him and he wrote me back and told me he admired the work.
For more info about Ed go to: http://www.edcdwardcarvalho.com/
Doug Holder/ Boston Area Small press and Poetry Scene.