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Local author honored with Reinaldo Arenas 2018 award

By Staff | Jan 4, 2019

Carlos Rubio Albet has been named as a Reinaldo Arenas 2018 award winner. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — “Mine is not an obedient writing. I think that literature as any art has to be irreverent,” said Cuban poet, novelist and playwright Reinaldo Arenas. While Arenas’ writing career often reflected this independent spirit of his — first approving of, then opposing Fidel Castro’s government — it also revealed his love for his native language, Spanish, with many of his books being written in Spanish.

Arenas’ legacy lives on today, not only in his written works, but also through a contest that, like his writing, encourages the publication of Spanish literature. The Reinaldo Arenas award is presented every year to literature submitted from authors around the world. The award’s board of directors, which requires its emailed submissions to be written in Spanish, alternates every-other-year between accepting poetry or novels.

This December, Shepherdstown resident and author Carlos Rubio Albet was honored with receiving the Reinaldo Arenas 2018 award for his book, “Doble Filo.”

“The deadline for submission was October of 2018. The award was announced on December 7,” Albet said during a phone interview after he received the official announcement.

“The reason they awarded this on Dec. 7, is because he died on Dec. 7, 1990. He was trying to finish a novel, which he did, and after he finished it, then he drank this lethal cocktail of stuff. It is very sad — certainly, he had a gift, but he had to deal with all sorts of demons,” Albet said. “Just to have my name linked in the same sentence with his, is a great honor. I’m not implying for a second I’m in the same category as him. I look at my own work, and I see flaws in it, but it gets to the point where I said, this is the best I can do. It is flawed, but I can do no better. And then I try to release it.

“This award has been going on for years. One year is poetry, and one year is novel. So last year was poetry, and 2018 was novel,” Albet said, mentioning this was the first time he had submitted his writing to the award board for consideration, although he has received other notable awards for his writing over the years.

“I’m very happy, with not just this particular award — this is not the first — but with my overall career as a writer, I cannot complain,” Albet said.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time. I published my first short story when I was in undergraduate school at Concord College in 1966,” Albet said about his writing career, which includes 15 written books — the majority of which have been published in either English or Spanish. “As everybody knows, no one is forever. But the one thing that will remain after I’m gone, is the books. This latest book is not funny — it’s a serious work, but some of my books are satirical novels and pretty funny.”

Albert, who taught for 10 years in Shepherd University’s English and Literature Department, after teaching at Hood College, said while he has taught and translated between Spanish and English throughout his lifetime, his focus has always been on his writing career.

“The central theme of my life has been writing. I’ve had many occupations, has been a brick mason, carpenter, college professor, high school teacher. If you look at my life, the one constant theme has been the writing,” Albet said. “I’ve always been doing something, always had a project going.

To learn more about Albet’s writing career, visit his website at carlosrubioalbet.com/.