Missouri native and author Craig Albin shared his writing talents with this community Dec. 9-10, at the Fredericktown branch of the Ozark Regional Library.
In keeping with his Ozark heritage, Albin gave an old fashioned face-to-face reading from one of his collections of short stories Friday evening to a group of about 20 listeners. Albin’s generous spirit continued with his leading a “Writing About Home” workshop for writers on the following day. Writers of all levels were invited to hone their skills while centering on the topic of “home” not only in terms of the typical definition, but also the heart’s place.
Albin spoke about inspiration for writing from Faulkner in his younger years; and from Ron Rash more recently.
“Writers have to do a lot of reading,” Albin advised.
Following his reading from his collection entitled, “Hard Toward Home: Stories by C. D. Albin,” his in-person preference is backed up by his admitted distance from social media usage.
Albin gave patient answers to audience questions on the segment and his Ozark writing style. The author ties in personal experiences to his writing and made a reference to the injured deer in the featured segment.
His reading displays the tremendous empathy of the character, Lauren. She discovers a severely injured doe lying on the edge of the woods on her walk down the trial. Lauren deals with her heavy heart as she wrestles with finding a humane solution.
Albin’s characters interact as he paints a subtle picture. His words allowing the readers to fully engage their own mind’s eye.
Robert, Lauren’s husband in the collection is pulled by an undeniable force back to his Ozark home and to a truer version of himself. This passage from “Hard Toward Home” describes Robert’s decision, “after twenty-four comfortable years in Ladue he’d suddenly been seized by the urge to return to Arkansas and re-root.”
People from in and around the Ozarks can relate to Robert’s situation. There are several who have left to pursue educational and career goals only to return several years later.
“I’m thinking now of a good friend, a native Ozarker, who is better at making people feel welcome and at home than anyone I’ve ever met, from any region,” Albin remembered.
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Although there is no denying their uniqueness, Albin talks about the draw of this region we refer to as the Ozarks. He also reminds us of the connection we all have as residents in this country.
“I write about people in situations of tension and stress, and these people just happen to live in a place called Bond County, Arkansas, Albin said. “Although the locale is more rural and less prosperous than some other places in this country, the inhabitants’ certainly have compensations, which include a landscape of enduring beauty and—for many of them—a sense of rootedness that can only come from an awareness that multiple generations of their families have lived here, died here, are buried here.”
“The landscape itself has a particularly seductive nature, in part because its beauty is so closely connected to its harshness. The land is literally hard, by which I mean it tends to be rock-strewn at all times and baked nearly to the texture of concrete during summer droughts, then frozen inches deep during the coldest weeks of January and February,” he continues.
“But I’ve always thought that the harsh nature of the Ozark landscape somehow accounted for its appeal. For instance, in a great love affair people are sometimes most attracted to, maybe obsessed by, the person who doesn’t easily yield, who is somehow hard to love,” Albin explained. I wonder if people’s love for the Ozarks is somewhat like that.”
Even in his explanations about his work he leaves readers the freedom to interject their own ideals, providing further evidence of his generosity.
“Hard Toward Home is my first and only book, although I have published a number of poems in various journals,” Albin explains. “One poetry manuscript, Axe, Fire, Mule, was a finalist for the 2015 Press 53 Poetry Prize.”
Albin teaches English at Missouri State University – West Plains, currently. In preparation for his teaching and writing career he earned a Doctorate of Arts in English at the University of Mississippi; a Master of Arts in English at Missouri State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oral Roberts University.
He founded and edits Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies. Albin has had his stories, poems and reviews published in “Arkansas Review,” “Cape Rock,” “Georgia Review,” “Harvard Review,” “Natural Bridge,” and “Slant.” Albin also holds memberships in several professional societies including: Arkansas Philological Association; Hemingway Society; John Updike Society; Mississippi Philological Association; Society for the Study of Southern Literature; and William Faulkner Society.
Albin provides readings and workshops as an invited guest on numerous occasions including the Ozark Regional Library’s Fredericktown branch at 115 S. Main Street. His visit was made possible by support from the University of Missouri Extension Council - Madison County, Historic Madison County, Mineral Area Council on the Arts, and the Ozark Regional Library.