It was last week that David St Lawrence posted about a reading given by Ron Rash in Floyd. I first stumbled onto Ron Rash last year on Garrison Keillor's email newsletter, The Writer’s Almanac, hear it here. The poem being presented was “The Exchange” from Among the Believers (2000, Iris Press,). Something in the poem really grabbed me ‘cause truth to tell, I don’t normally read poetry…Since then every time I have seen a reference to Mr. Rash and his work, I have paid attention. I am glad I did, and I really wish I could have been in Floyd that night to have heard the words in the voice of the man who wrote them…I am going to post a piece of “The Exchange” here, please go read the whole thing and then try a book or two…
The Exchange Between Wytheville, Virginiaand the North Carolina line,he meets a wagon headedwhere he's been, seated besideher parents a dark-eyed girlwho grips the reins in her fist,no more than sixteen, he'd guessas they come closer and shedoesn't look away or blushbut allows his eyes to holdhers that moment their lives pass.He rides into Boone at dusk,stops at an inn where he buyshis supper, a sleepless nightthinking of fallow fields stillmiles away, the girl he mightnot find the like of again.
A bit of family myth and the voice of a poet, with that combination, all of us would have a chance to write the epic of our own mythology.
From the Iris Press website:
Ron Rash's family has lived in the southern Appalachian mountains since the mid-1700's, and it is this region that is the primary focus of his writing. Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and graduated from Gardner-Webb College and Clemson University. He is currently the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. He is the author to three books of poetry: Eureka Mill, Among the Believers (2000, Iris Press,) and Raising the Dead (2002, Iris Press); and two collections of short stories: The Night The New Jesus Fell to Earth (1994), and Casualties (2000.) . He is also author or two acclaimed novels: One Foot in Eden (2002,) and Saints at the River (2004,) and one book for children: The Shark’s Tooth.
His poetry and fiction have been published in over 80 journals and magazines including Yale Review, Georgia Review, Oxford American, New England Review, Southern Review, Shenandoah and DoubleTake. Ron Rash has received frequent awards and recognition for his writing, including The Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award for 2003 and Forward Magazine’s Gold Medal for Best Literary Novel of 2002, both for his debut novel, One Foot in Eden."