In 2010, the Broad River Review began two new contests, called the Rash Awards, named in honor of Ron Rash, a 1976 graduate of Gardner-Webb University. Rash’s first published poem, “Last Night Ride,” appeared in the pages of this literary review the year of his graduation. His family has deep roots in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and most of his writing reflects his connection to the region. Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, home to Gardner-Webb University, and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Gardner-Webb and Clemson universities, respectively.
Since graduating, of course, Rash has worked tirelessly at his writing. He is the author of four books of poetry: Eureka Mill (1998), Among the Believers (2000), Raising the Dead (2002) and Waking (2011); five books of short stories: The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth (1994), Casualties (2000), Chemistry (2007), Burning Bright (2010), Nothing Gold Can Stay (2013), and Something Rich and Strange (2014); and six novels: One Foot in Eden (2002), Saints at the River (2004), The World Made Straight (2006), Serena (2008), The Cove (2012), and Above the Waterfall (2015). Upon the publication of Serena, Pat Conroy said, “Serena catapults [Rash] to the front ranks of the best American novelists.”
Rash’s poetry and fiction have appeared in dozens of journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Longman Anthology of Southern Literature, Sewanee Review, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Poetry. He has been honored with many awards, including an NEA Poetry Fellowship, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, an O. Henry Award, and the James Still Award by the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Two of his recent books, Serena and Chemistry, were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2010, Burning Bright won the 2010 Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the most lucrative award in the world for short fiction, and Rash was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
Rash currently holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University.