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It's been a long time since I've been me.

Fernando Pessoa

An interview

with myself

Stacey Kent-Jardin D'hiver
Mauro MPLS.jpg

Hi there! I'm Mauro C. Souza.

Here are some of the questions that I have been asking myself, and some that I haven't asked myself yet. 

 

When is your birthday?

 

I was born on the 14th of February, 1956 

 

What did your parents do, and what is their background?

 

When I was a small boy, my father worked in a glass factory, and he also did other things. My mother was a housewife and spent most of her time taking care of three boys and two girls. My mother finished 4th grade and never went back to school again. Her family was very poor and they could not be afforded to have her in school. She began working very early in life. However, she loved to read everything she could get on her hands, especially her inseparable Bible. My father learned to read and write when he was about 40 years old, although he was very good at math. He helped me a lot with my homework. Later on, he attended the evening classes of Mobral (Brazilian Literacy Movement). Years later, he became a Presbyterian Lay Pastor.

 

What about your family history?

Both of my parents came from poor families. My mother, a Portuguese descendent, was raised with her twelve brothers and sisters on a small farm near a small town called Buri, State of Sao Paulo. My father was a Dutch descendent and was born and raised in the poor area of northeastern Brazil, near Campina Grande, State of Paraiba. He left his home when he was a teenager to find work in Rio de Janeiro. Later on, he moved to São Paulo.

 

Tell me about yourself. Where were you born, and what school did you go to?

 

I was born and raised in São Paulo City, Brazil. I went to Alexandre de Gusmão High School. There was a small library by the school where I spend most of my time reading books, magazines, and newspapers. After High School, I went to study Theology and I received my Doctoral Degree in Religious Studies from Free Methodist Theological Seminary. Before that, I also studied Economics at United Metropolitan College and Composition and Conducting at the State University of São Paulo. After I moved to the USA, I went to Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey study “Hispanic/Latino(a) Leadership”, and later on, to Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA, to study Leadership & Spirituality.

Why Theology? Are you a spiritual man?

Since I was a teenager, I always had a curiosity and a strong interest in knowing the divine things.

A theology without spirituality would be a sterile academic exercise. A spirituality without theology can become superstition or fanaticism or the quest for excitement. Theology and spirituality need one another within the unity of life. I think, being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals, and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all connected and consciously attempts to honor this oneness. It is not difficult to be a spiritual person. The soul, the organ of our personality, is composed of mind, desires, and emotions. Sometimes we think the soul is the master of all actions – the body follows its direction. However, the soul, despite its activities, is governed by the spirit. We are one entity, wholeness (body, mind, and spirit) and holiness. These two words are not synonymous, but are, in fact, related. It is only when we exercise our spirituality we can achieve the complete a harmonious union of body, mind, and spirit.

 

Are you a political writer?

Everybody is a political person, whether you say something or you are silent. Sometimes being silent could make a bigger impact on the political realm, and it is not pretty. Silence is good but it can be also very bad. A political attitude is not whether you go to parliament, it is how you deal with your life and life of people around you. I am at least giving the readers the sense they are not alone. Writing is a form of protesting against the establishment.

Have you ever been a member of any political party or participate in any political activities?

 

My entire youth years were during the dictatorship era in Brazil. In 1964 when Brazil had a coup d’etat and the subsequent military dictatorship, I was 8 years old.  In 1984 I actively participated in the movement called Diretas Já (Election Now), which was a civil unrest movement demanded direct presidential elections. I was then 28 years old. I was angry with the political system, and when you are angry you react; when you are scared, you don’t react. I had both feelings in my youth years. I’m proud to say that I was actively fighting for democracy and freedom together with the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker’s Party), a left-wing political party in Brazil. The party follows democratic socialist principles. 

Mr. Souza, you live in the US for almost 30 years. Are you interested in building bridges between cultures?

 

For a writer, you have to be interested in different cultures, different backgrounds. You are not there to write only about your village, but also to understand other villages. Like Tolstoy says: “everything that happens in a village happens everywhere”. Besides, I think, it is the writer who will analyze, propose, register, and criticize the local society and the large society as well. To do so, it is necessary to build bridges between cultures and create forms of interaction between those who are different, and somehow, he needs to seek justice and equality among people.  

How many languages do you speak?

I can speak, read, and write in Portuguese and English quite fluently. Portuguese is my first language. Besides that, I have good knowledge of Spanish and French to a limited extension. Every page on my website has a translation button at the top right corner where you can choose and read my texts in your comfortable language. You will find some mistakes in those translations, and for that, I apologize. I hope you enjoy navigating through my website and have the opportunity to know my work a little bit. 

Why are you active on the internet?

The Internet is great! It is a new platform and as a writer, I have in my hands this platform where I can use for my writing process. People are reading more and writing more now because of the internet. The internet is also a way for me to listen to my readers and interact with them. They can voice their opinion, agree with me or not, criticize and praise my work. I like to challenge and to be challenged with language. My readers can also post my works on Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of sharing. I am always interested in how readers react to the texts that I write. One of the excitement of writing is to see where it goes. It is fun.

When you write, do you have a premeditated idea, some kind of purpose in your mind?

No, I write because I need to express my soul. I need to share my thoughts, emotions, and imagination with others. I don’t know if my writings will make any difference in the world, or if it will make the world a better place. I guess I will never know. Maybe my writing will provoke some critical thinking and maybe it will help, at least, others to understand this world differently. This is what I’m trying to do. Roberto Bolaño once said, “Reading is more important than writing”.

How involved is your personal life with your work?

I don't think a writer can write out of nothing. I am very present in my writings and they are somehow an expression of who I am.

What were your first contacts with this world of reading and writing? How was it hooked?

 

My house has always had books and today it is proven by research that children of readers become readers. My mother loved reading, my father as well after he learns how to read. Then there are stories told by my mother, she knew stories from her head, from her childhood. I also went to schools that encouraged reading a lot, and that was very important. Of course, I started reading Brazilian authors,  Machado de Assis, José de Alencar, Drumond, Manuel Bandeira, Lygia F. Telles, Cecilia Meirelles, Raquel de Queiros, Clarice Lispector, and also Portuguese authors like Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queiros, José Saramago, etc. I have been always attracted by literature. I was in love with the universe of poetry, which is sometimes a little distant from the teenager.

Do you have techniques for writing?

The more you write, the more you know the best way to say what you want to say, which paragraph is the funniest, how to put that sentence together to have the impact and humor, how to delay information to create suspense. And these things you learned with practice. I mean, whenever I finish a text, I know for sure I could work two more days on it and that text would be much better.

And do you proofread your texts often?

I don't even know what proofreading is because writing is proofreading. Writing is rewriting all the time. When I hear a writer saying very proud: "I rewrote my book seven times". I say: "How does he know when one version ends and the other begins?" Because you're always writing and moving. Even more now with a computer, you are constantly cutting and pasting, moving this and moving that. Then I reread, reread, and then I read aloud and write again; something that sounded good yesterday doesn't sound good today. You don’t believe how many mistakes go through; you read the thing twenty times and get inexplicable mistakes. It's astonishing.

So, what are you writing now?

I’m a work in progress. The text is still a jumble of ideas in my head, some rough sketches on paper, and many files on my laptop. I can say as much as the forthcoming book will be fiction, but I am also working in a non-fiction book. One thing I know, I will surprise even myself. 

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