Sunday, December 09, 2018

 bill berry, jr.

Publisher and CEO, aaduna &
Member, Rockford Kingsley's Advisory Board
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carlos Evaristo Flores
 

"I’m at the beginning of my writing career, and I’m learning the different tools that are available to a poet. I know that I have a love of language, and I enjoy the process of finding the right word and using it in a new or insightful manner. But, I need more experience as a writer, and I’m excited by that challenge of growth as a poet." 

 
 

 

Visit aaduna's Web Site

and Read

Carlos Evaristo Flores's Poems

 
 
Which Appeared In

 Winter 2012 Issue 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

E-ViewPoints

 
Interview With Carlos Evaristo Flores 
 
bill berry, jr.
 
 
 
 
Carlos Evaristo Flores is the father of two children, a gorgeous and emotionally intelligent ten-year old daughter (who happens to be an aspiring artist) and a brilliant and precocious 4-year old son. A chocolate lab holds the honor of being the only pet.  Carlos enjoys reading books that are inspirational and challenges him to be better and the last book he read was Gerry Spence’s How to Argue & Win Every Time.  You may have surmised that Mr. Flores is a lawyer.  Like his choice in reading, Carlos favors any genre of music that moves his spirit.  Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris was the last movie he saw and in reference to that film, Carlos states, “I suffer from the same type of nostalgia.”  While he is a person with varied interests, his principal objective in life remains grounded and focused.  His goal is to “raise my kids to be healthy and happy adults.” 
 

 

 

bill:
I am anxious to get started; however, my manners prompt me to thank you for taking the time to chat with me.  So Carlos, there is so much ground to cover.  Let’s get started.  Your full name, Carlos Evaristo Flores has a ring of boldness, distinction and authority.  Who were you named after; how were you raised, and what is the background of your parents?
 
Carlos:
I was named after my grandfather (Carlos Flores) and my great-grandfather (Evaristo Flores).  My grandfather was kind of a tragic figure in the sense that he was a brilliant, hard working man, but he was never comfortable in his own skin.  Although I never met my great-grandfather, it appears he lived the same tragedy.  They were both Puerto Rican, which is funny because I identify more with my Texas-Mexican roots.  My mother’s ancestors, along with many other families, have been a part of South Texas from the 1700s.  I’m proud of both traditions. 
 
In a way, my journey is one of overcoming that legacy.  My parents (Carlos Nicolas Flores and Dora Maria Vegara) are both writers and the two most brilliant people I have ever met.  Although my father is more accomplished writer, my mother is my favorite poet, and I always encourage her to keep writing.  My sister, Florinda Brown, is an up and coming playwright.  I never saw myself as a writer and opted for a simpler career, so I decided to study law.  However, I think I write more than all of them because the career of a lawyer involves writing on a daily basis. 
 
In fact, it was because of my familiarity with writing and the use of language in my law career that I felt that I too could write.  I’m very drawn to poetry because it requires a command of language and words.  I love that treacherous but rewarding experience of looking for the right word or phrase that captures a feeling that cannot be captured otherwise. 
 
I had a great life in El Paso, Texas, but due to family reasons, I had to return to my hometown of Laredo, Texas.  My poetry began during that same time period.  I felt compelled to write as a way of dealing with the violence that I read about in Mexico.  But, I also think it was an outlet for me to understand my journey home to Laredo.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Laredo and South Texas, and much of my poetry is about this place I call home, but I think that coming home really involved a journey within myself.  The poetry is how I gave expression to that journey. 
 
bill:
It is interesting that you have a bi-cultural background within the larger dynamic of being Latino.  I think too many people still define biculturalism as across racial parameters but do not grasp that there is a multiplicity and complexities within these pre-determined categories of race and culture for all people, especially people of color.  More importantly, you come from a creative and literary family.  Your dad in his coming of age book, Our House on Hueco, writes about the world from the eyes of ten-year old Junior.  How was your childhood similar or different from this character and how old were you when you read your dad’s book?  How does the themes of your poetry compare to the writings of your mother?   
 
Carlos:
I agree with your insight that many people do not grasp the multiplicity and complexity that exists within the Latin American culture.  Even among Mexican-Americans, there are cultural, regional and political differences.  When I was in law school, I met Chicanos from California, and their history and political views are very different from the people I grew up with in Laredo, Texas.  This often leads to misunderstandings because there is a tendency to say my history is authentic and the other’s history is not.  I think that some Mexican-Americans struggle to define their story as more authentic than other Mexican-Americans, and I think the focus should be on understanding the other. 
 
As for your question regarding Junior, I identify with the character in some ways, but I don’t in others precisely because of this issue of multiplicity within a racial group. 
 
Junior’s history and experiences are different from mine.  He lived in a different world when institutional racism and prejudice were palpable and normal, even acceptable.
 
Junior grows up in the 1950s in El Paso, Texas.  From what I am told, Mexican-Americans fought for political and economic equality against an Anglo-American elite.  This is evidenced by the fact that for many years Mexican-Americans in El Paso fought to serve in elected office despite being a majority in El Paso. 
 
The character of Junior grew up during that period of history and his relationship with the Anglo-American family that lives in his parents’ home is one that was not common at that time.  This is no longer the case in El Paso. 
 
Today El Paso is a very progressive and politically enlightened community.  One example is the recent efforts undertaken by city council to extend health benefits for same-sex couples who work for the city.  This is the new civil rights movement, and El Paso is in the forefront of that battle.  Not to mention the fact that UTEP won the 1966 national championship in basketball because it was the first college athletic program to start all African-American basketball players. 
 
I grew up in Laredo and by the 1980s Mexican-Americans here were not fighting against an Anglo-American elite.  We fought other types of moral and political corruption, but it’s not the same as the world in which Junior grew up. 
 
This not to say that Laredo was not a victim of institutional racism such as the great inequities in public school funding that existed in the 1980s and that became the basis of the Edgewood lawsuits that transformed public school funding in Texas. 
 
The differences are significant enough to state that Junior and I grew up in different places and in different times, so we are going to have different points of view. 
 
However, I do identify with Junior to the extent that like him I became aware of my ethnicity.  It is real.  And I embraced it at a young age and decided that I would not see it as a handicap or a negative.  In Laredo, Mexican-American is the norm.  We are all Mexican-American.  There is other prejudice that exists in a place like Laredo, but that would require a book. 
 
So, I identify with Junior because he becomes aware of his ethnicity and tries to make sense of his place in the world.  I went through a similar experience.
 
As for my mother’s poetry, her poetic voice is sincere and insightful.  Her use of language and metaphor is dramatic and creative but also humble.  She does not have to show off that she is gifted.  I don’t know if that makes sense. 
 
Her themes and characters are very personal to her and our family.  So, I love her poetry because of how it reads and the feelings the words evoke, but also because I understand the struggle the words capture.
 
I would love to send you some of her work.  I wish she wrote more often.  There is a need for Dora Vergara’s poetic voice.  
 
 
bill:
And as you continue to make sense of your place in the world, what do you want to achieve with your poetry?  What is the impact and affect you want from your readership?
 
Carlos:
I hope to capture authentic images of life on the Texas-Mexico border. This is a fascinating place. I want someone from Laredo
to read one of my poems and recognize the images and emotions and be moved by them.  If the work is real and sincere, and I’m able to effectively use the poetic devices in my poetry, then I will feel successful as a poet.  
 
I’m at the beginning of my writing career, and I’m learning the different tools that are available to a poet.  I know that I have a love of language, and I enjoy the process of finding the right word and using it in a new or insightful manner.  But, I need more experience as a writer, and I’m excited by that challenge of growth as a poet.   
 
I am researching a new series of poems that are meant to teach me how to write poetry and sharpen my imagery.  This series of poems will be focused on place in South Texas that are significant for one reason or the other.  I plan to take my time with these poems because I see them as a real chance to grow as a poet, and ultimately as a person.
 
bill:
First of all, please encourage your Mom to submit her work or it would be great if she elected to share a few pieces for me to read on a personal level.  Moving on…while I have not been to Laredo, I have experienced El Paso.  Reflecting on that experience, there is a vibrancy and richness in that part of Texas that would provide a wealth of topics and themes for you to express poetically.  So, as you start your pathway to grow as a poet, what other life directions are you planning?  
 
Carlos: 
At 36, I have learned that life will lead me in directions that I cannot even imagine.  Many of my experiences in the last 10 years were unimaginable to me and that taught me to be humble and open-minded.  With that said, I plan to write poetry and develop as an attorney.  I plan to remain close to my kids and help them develop their own creative voices.  I also hope to play a role in helping Laredo meet its full potential.  I’m blessed to have amazing friends and to be doing challenging work, and after some turbulent years, I’m very grateful for my blessings. 
 
It has been a great honor that aaduna published two of my poems, and I’m grateful to you for taking an interest in my work and life.  I hope that my writing will continue to evolve and that I will be able to do meaningful work.  Thank you.
 
bill:
You are most welcome.  And in closure, are there any words of wisdom that you want to share with Rockford Kingsley’s leadership?
 
Carlos:
Only advice I can give: take life a day at a time. 
 

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