Ron Rash: 2011 Appalachian Heritage Writer in Residence: “Burning Bright: The Language and Storytelling of Appalachia and the Poetry and Prose of Ron Rash”
Born in Chester, South Carolina, poet and fiction writer Ron Rash grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina, near Boiling Springs. Rash graduated from Gardner-Webb and Clemson universities, publishing his first collection of short stories in 1994, The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth. Rash has since published a number of award-winning books, including collections of poetry such as Eureka Mill (1998), Among the Believers (2000), and Raising the Dead (2002). His novels include One Foot in Eden (2002), Saints at the River (2004), The World Made Straight (2006), and Serena (2008). Rash's other story collections include Casualties (2000), Chemistry and Other Stories (2007), and his latest collection Burning Bright (2010). The quality and depth of Rash's work has placed him into a select group of American and Appalachian writers that includes Fred Chappell, Denise Giardina, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith. His work is richly reflective of the cultural traditions of the region but laden and prescient with contemporary issues and ideas that also transcend the region. Among Rash's prestigious awards are The Sherwood Anderson Prize (1996), Appalachian Book of the Year for One Foot in Eden (2002), Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Saints at the River (2004), O. Henry Prize (2005), and Pen/Faulkner Finalist (2009) for Serena. Rash currently holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University and was most recently awarded The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize for "Burning Bright."