The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, 2023 In West Plains, MO. This year’s Festival footprint is expanded, encompassing vendors and activities from the east lawn of the Civic Center, down Trish Knight Blvd., including events on Washington Avenue, on Trish Knight St., and up to the Commons on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus at Haas-Darr Hall. Admission to all festival events is free.

The Garnett Library/Ozarks Heritage Research Center (OHRC) is hosting the Author Talks. Festival goers can attend an open house of the newly renovated OHRC to view multiple pieces on loan from the L.L. Broadfoot collection housed at Harlin Museum as well as some of the materials that will be housed in the OHRC. In front of the Garnett Library the Ozarks Heritage Research Center will have a booth with informational brochures and branded merchandise for sale.

Author Talks schedule

Friday, June 2

11:00 a.m. – C. D. Albin – Dr. Albin will read and discuss selections from Hard Toward Home and Axe, Fire, Mule.

12:00 p.m. – Phillip Howerton – Dr. Howerton will be present a program about Mark Spitzer’s final book, Cryptozarkia.

1:00 p.m. – Amy Wright Vollmar – Vollmar will read and discuss selections of her new and collected poems.

2:00p.m. – James Fowler – Dr. Fowler will read and discuss selections from The Pain Trader and Field Trip.

3:00 p.m. – Agnes Vojta – Vojta will read and discuss a variety of her poems from Porous Land, The Eden of Perhaps, A Coracle of Dreams, and Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry.

Saturday June 3

11:00 a.m. – Anthony Priest – Priest will be reading a selection of poems from his forthcoming collection, Until the Bridge.

1:00 p.m. – Wendy Taylor Carlisle – Carlisle will read and discuss a variety of her poems.

2:00 p.m. – Jim Hamilton – Hamilton will read and discuss a selection of his essays.

3:00 p.m. – Gerry Sloan – Sloan will read and discuss a variety of his poems.

4:30 p.m. – Brooks Blevins – Dr. Blevins will present the program “Up South in the Ozarks”

Authors’ Bios

C. D. Albin is a professor of English at Missouri State University–West Plains. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies. His fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in a number of publications, including Arkansas Review, Big Muddy, Cape Rock, Cave Region Review, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, Natural Bridge, Philological Review,and Style. Ten of his short stories were collected in Hard Toward Home, published by Press 53 in 2016, a collection for which Albin received the Missouri Author Award from the Missouri Library Association in 2017. His poetry collection, Axe, Fire, Mule, was published by Golden Antelope Press in 2018. He is currently compiling and editing the anthology Stories Hills: Contemporary Ozarks Fiction.

Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. He published with the University of Illinois Press his capstone work—three volumes constituting the definitive history of the Ozarks. He is also the author or editor of ten other books, including Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State.

In addition to these works, he serves as the editor of the University of Arkansas Press’s Chronicles of the Ozarks Series and Ozarks Studies Series. Blevins also produced and co-wrote the liner notes for two collections of recordings of traditional Ozarks music: Sounds of the Ozark Folk: The 1963 Arkansas Folk Festival and Sounds of the Ozark Folk, Volume II: Middle Americana. Blevins currently serves on the editorial boards of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly and the Missouri Historical Review, co-hosts regional history and culture segments on Ozark Highlands Radio, and chairs the Ozark Folk Cultural Center Commission, which oversees Arkansas’s Ozark Folk Center State Park.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle was born in Manhattan, grew up in Florida, received an MA in history at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Union Institute in 2003. She is the author of four books, Reading Berryman to the Dog (2000), Discount Fireworks (2008), On the Way to the Promised Land Zoo (2019),and The Mercy of Traffic (2019), for which she received the 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication AwardHer chapbooks include After Happily Ever After,Persephone on the MetroThey Went Down to the Beach to Play, and Chap Book. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize thirteen times and twice nominated for best of web. Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book Discount Fireworks in 2020. See some of her poems online and in print in Persimmon Tree, pacificREVIEW, 2RiverView, Kentucky Review, Cider Press Review, Lost River Review, Mom Egg, barzakh, San Pedro River Review, Atlanta Review, Freshwater Review, Tab,and Rattle. Her website is Wendy Taylor Carlisle | Poet and Author

James Fowler teaches literature at the University of Central Arkansas. His poems have recently appeared in such journals as Futures Trading Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig, Cave Region Review, Elder Mountain, Valley Voices, Aji Magazine, Malevolent Soap, Seems, Angry Old Man Magazine, Dash, Common Ground Review, Westview and The Poetry of Capital. His poetry collection, The Pain Trader, was released by Antelope Press in 2019, and his short story collection, Field Trip, was published by Cornerpost Press in 2022.

Jim Hamilton is a retired weekly newspaper editor and continues to write columns for several Southwest Missouri newspapers. A native of Dallas County, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Missouri State University and served as a journalist in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era. From January 1976 through May 2015, he was successively an editor for the Bolivar Herald-Free Press and the Buffalo Reflex newspapers, and for a short time edited Springfield! Magazine. His work has also appeared in Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies and in Yonder Mountain: An Ozarks Anthology (University of Arkansas Press, 2013). Several of his essays were collected in River of Used to Be: Reflections of an Ozarks Editor and Ozarks RFD: Selected Essays, 2010-2015. Hamilton was inducted in 2016 into the Missouri Southern State University Regional Media Hall of Fame and the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Martha, live on a small acreage outside Buffalo with a couple of steers, a few chickens, and a dog.

Phillip Howerton, a sixth generation Ozarker, was brought up on a small farm in southern Dallas County, Missouri. After spending several years as a milk truck driver, a production worker, and a beef farmer, he earned degrees in English, history, and education from Drury University and a doctorate in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has taught English at colleges and universities in the Ozarks for more than twenty years, is co-founder and co-editor of Cave Region Review, an associate editor of The Heartland Review, and general editor of Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies, and his essays, reviews, and poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals. His poetry collection, The History of Tree Roots, was published by Golden Antelope Press in 2015, and his anthology, The Literature of the Ozarks, was published by University of Arkansas Press in February 2019. He received the 2019 Missouri Literary Award from the Missouri Library Association. He is the managing editor and owner of Cornerpost Press.

Dr. Howerton will be presenting a program about Mark Spitzer’s final book, Cryptozarkia. Mark Spitzer, who passed away in January 2023, was professor of English at University of Central Arkansas and the author of more than thirty books. Cryptozarkia is a collection of investigative poetry examining twelve legendary creatures of the Ozarks, such as the hoop snake, the wampus cat, and the Ozark howler.

Anthony Priest was raised on an Ozarks farm near Ebenezer, Missouri. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Missouri State University in Springfield and a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a professor of English at Missouri State-West Plains. His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of journals, he is the editor of Yonder Mountain: An Ozarks Anthology (University of Arkansas Press, 2013), and his poetry collection, Until the Bridge, is scheduled to be released during the fall of 2023.

Gerry Sloan is a retired music professor living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has published five chapbooks (one translated into Mandarin) and two poetry collections: Paper Lanterns (2011) and Crossings: A Memoir in Verse (2017). His work has appeared in such literary magazines as North Dakota Quarterly, The Kansas Quarterly, The Nebraska Review, Nebo, Slant, and the Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry. He received the WORDS Award for Poetry in 1990 from the Arkansas Literary Society. More recently his “Poem for Palestine” won first place in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Literary Contest.

Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri, where she teaches physics at Missouri University of Science and Technology and hikes the Ozarks. Agnes is the author of Porous Land (2019), The Eden of Perhaps (2020), and A Coracle for Dreams (2022). Her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines. Her joint project with the painter Greg Edmondson, Dark Matter, was on exhibit at the Smalter Gallery in Kansas City in April 2022. Most recently, she has been collaborating with eight other poets on the book Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry, Cornerpost Press, December 2022.

Amy Wright Vollmar loves to search the nearby wild for poems (and interesting rocks) near Springfield, Missouri, where she lives with her family. She always carries a mud-proof notebook, and wears bug spray in lieu of perfume! Her poetry has previously appeared in Elder Mountain and Cave Region Review, and her first book of poetry, Follow, was published by Cornerpost Press in 2020. Through her poems, she invites you to explore the fragile but tenacious wilderness of the Ozarks. 

The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains.  The festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands.

2023 Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center, and Missouri State University-West Plains.  Partial funding for this event is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. Additional support has been provided by Missouri Humanities and Missouri Department of Tourism.

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