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The Unintentional Poet: Chris Carrier

by Chad Messer

Public Television paragon Bob Ross once said that there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. Such sentiment certainly applies to WCU graduate Chris Carrier, who "accidentally’ scrawled his first poem on the top of a desk in 12th grade. He has been scrawling them ever since.

From outer space to inner fire

“I wanted to be an astronaut,” Carrier says about his early educational goals. He started his career at Western as a pre-engineering major, until he became disillusioned with mathematics and enamored with words.

He entered WCU’s English department specifically because of its intimate size. “I grew without being swallowed, as might have happened at a bigger school,” he states about his alma mater. "They gave me community…and a solid cliff from which to dive.” The small size of the English community at Western meant Carrier was never merely a number.

After Dayton

Now a published poet and teacher in his own right, Carrier published his first book, "After Dayton," in 2008, as well as chapbooks "Lyric" (horse less press, 2007) and "The 16s" (Katalanche Press, 2007). His poems have appeared in 6x6, American Letters and Commentary, Coconut, LIT, Pleiades, Verse, Word For/Word and elsewhere. He works and lives in western Massachusetts with a chihuahua named Merwin.

Carrier graduated from the prestigeous M.F.A. program at University of Massachusetts — Amherst, where he earned a full scholarship. When asked to describe the importance of expression through the written word, he stated, “It’s how I change the world, how I make it ugly. Writing is how I make beauty and beautiful things. It’s how I woo women. It’s how I wake and sleep and do everything in between. Basically, existence is futile without writing.”

A difficult muse

All writers instinctively know one thing: it must be done. Chris Carrier had his life planned out until the muse tapped him on the shoulder and showed him a new path. “Suddenly, a line jumped out at me,” Carrier states as he related his first writing experience. “It had sharp gnashing teeth and gulped fire; it scared me. I wanted to cross it out, but could only keep going.”

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.