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C.D. Albin

C.D. Albin, author of "Axe, Fire, Mule," will be speaking at the Fredericktown Branch of the Ozark Regional Library at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Fredericktown Branch of the Ozark Regional Library will be hosting award-winning author C.D. Albin at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Albin recently won the 2017 Missouri Author Award in Fiction from the Missouri Library Association for his book "Hard Toward Home" and on this visit he will be reading poetry from his latest book "Axe, Fire, Mule."

"The poems are mainly narrative, and set in the Ozarks," Albin said. "They explore rural life, the natural world, the frustrations and challenges of living in the region and the professions like farming and teaching."

Albin said the final section of the book consists of poems narrated by a character named Cicero Jack, an elderly Ozark farmer and widower who was born in 1927.

"My first book, 'Hard Toward Home,' is a collection of short stories set in the contemporary Ozarks," Albin said. "So the genre for 'Axe, Fire, Mule' is different since it is a book of poetry, but I'm still telling stories in the poems and the stories are set in the Ozarks. In that sense, the books have a number of similarities."

Albin said he hopes readers find his poems to be accessible and thought-provoking portraits of what it means to be a human being.

"I hope they find the poems artful and the language apt for the characters and conflicts being described," Albin said. "Robert Frost suggested that poetry could be a 'momentary stay against confusion,' and I hope my poems can give readers moments of calm, meaningful pause in the midst of hectic lives." 

Albin said he admires well-made things and the whole idea of artisanship and craftsmanship.

"When I write I try to produce a polished poem, short story or essay," Albin said. "That requires a good deal of revision, but the excitement that comes with finally producing something I hope is worthy, provides me with inspiration."

Albin grew up in West Plains where he attended Fair View Elementary and West Plains High School before earning his B.A. in English from Oral Roberts University and a M.A. in English from Missouri State University.

"I took a year off from school and worked at the West Plains Public Library," Albin said. "From there I entered a doctoral program in English and American Studies at Baylor University, but before I could finish, I received an offer to be assistant professor of English at Missouri State University, West Plains."

Albin said he took the offer and six years later he began commuting to the University of Mississippi in an effort to finish his doctoral studies. He later graduated from Ole Miss with a Doctor of Arts in English, specializing in creative writing.

"Because I write and teach, I don't have time for a great many hobbies, so I satisfy myself with one abiding passion, baseball," Albin said. "I am a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and try to be a serious student of the sport."

Albin said he remembers one day in seventh grade when he was asked to write down what profession he wanted to pursue he inexplicably wrote down he wanted to be a writer.

"I actually wanted to be the center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals but that didn't seem to be an appropriate answer," Albin said. "Later, around the end of my sophomore year in high school, when it was clear even to me that my ambitions of professional baseball were unrealistic, I started to think seriously about writing."

Albin said once he was in college he saw that being a writer was actually about sitting down daily and doing the work and practicing the craft. That was the turning point and period in his life when he began working hard at writing.

Many are glad Albin chose to be a writer over a center fielder including Fredericktown's own Librarian Bill Knight.

"I don't think he's just an OK writer," Knight said. "He's a serious student of writing and has read and reads great fiction."

Albin will only be in town for the reading before returning home to West Plains. The event is free and open to the public. Albin's website is cdalbin.com

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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