South Carolina Encyclopedia Guide to South Carolina Writers

By Tom Mack | Go to book overview

Rash, Ron (b. 1953).

Poet, novelist. Rash was born in Chester, South Carolina, on September 23, 1953, the son of James Hubert Rash and Sue Holder. He earned a B.A. in English at Gardner-Webb College in North Carolina and then received his M.A. in English from Clemson University. He has taught writing and literature at Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton and in the master of fine arts program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2003 he was named John A. Parris, Jr. and Dorothy Luxton Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Rash’s family has lived in the southern Appalachian Mountains and in the Piedmont of the Carolinas since the mid-1700s. He uses the agrarian life in the mountains as a main theme in much of his poetry and fiction, showing the humor and tragedy of farm people struggling against the vagaries of weather and unstable farm prices on isolated, hardscrabble patches of land. Rash’s third book of poems, Raising the Dead (2002), and his novel, One Foot in Eden (2002), take as their central theme the plight of mountain people who are about to be displaced from their family lands by the waters of a lake built by an electric power company. Generations of people tied to ancestral soil undergo the anxieties of removal into the textile mill towns of the Piedmont.

These mill towns serve as the locales for three of Rash’s books: his first book of stories, The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth and Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina (1994); his book of stories Casualties (2000); and his book of poems Eureka Mill(1998). These poems and stories center on the lives of those who have left their mountain homes in search of stable wages and security in the mills. All too often they find hardship and poverty instead.

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