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Author dedicates book to Franklin County teachers

The formative years of adolescence are impacted by many factors, including the people who populate this timeframe in a young person’s life. During these years, teachers can have a significant influence on a person’s decisions and life trajectory. For Franklin County native Kevin Cheek, one of his passions in life was majorly influenced by a ninth-grade teacher, a librarian and a college professor.

Cheek recently published “Enter the Imaginarium,” a collection of short stories and poems he dedicated to his ninth-grade Phil Campbell teacher Lucille McNatt, librarian Mary Nell Burfield and Northwest-Shoals Community College professor James Bulman. He credits McNatt with “seeing my gift and pushing me to begin writing.” Burfield showed him “at a young age that books are fun.” Bulman taught him “to be passionate about literature.”

“I had no idea my imagination was this crazy,” Cheek said – until he took McNatt’s class. According to Cheek, she required students to keep a journal. One day in class, she read his poem “Maybe” out loud, and he received a positive response from his classmates. She later encouraged him to submit his poem “Alone No More” into a contest, which he ended up winning.

“Maybe” and “Alone No More” are both included in “Enter the Imaginarium.”

Cheek said he distinctly remembers Burfield reading “The Jack Tales” aloud and how it inspired him. The way she read, he explained, showed him the art of storytelling. “I’ve been storytelling ever since,” he said. Aside from his written works, Cheek has been a storyteller at Dismals Canyon since 1999.

NW-SCC professor Bulman was passionate about literature and managed to pass that feeling on to Cheek.

“When he would read these stories and poems aloud, his lower lip would quiver, he was so passionate about it,” Cheek said.

It was in a class about Robert Frost that Cheek developed the idea to publish his own collection of works. Frost’s first book was a collection of stories that were originally never meant for other people to read until his friends encouraged him to share them. “I thought maybe that’s what I need to do,” Cheek said.

So, his collection is a compilation of works that he started crafting at the age of 16 and has continued to add to for 30 years now.

The short stories, he said, are standard and dramatic. His poems, however, are mostly written for entertainment purposes. Some are sentimental, like those about family members and his best friend. Others are poems he wrote to old girlfriends or people he had crushes on.

“It’s all in good fun. They’re an ode to the people who inspired them,” Cheek said.

The collection can be purchased on Amazon, Kindle and at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. For inquiries, Cheek can be reached at kevinjcheek@yahoo.com.

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