WCU’s Rash to receive state’s highest civilian honor

Western Carolina University faculty member and writer Ron Rash is one of six North Carolinians chosen to receive the state’s highest civilian honor, the North Carolina Award.

Rash, Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture at WCU, will receive the award Thursday, Nov. 10, at the N.C. Museum of History with a group of distinguished North Carolinians that includes musician Branford Marsalis and former congressman H. Martin Lancaster.

Recipients were announced Sept. 29 by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. “Each year, the North Carolina Awards are a chance for us to honor men and women who reflect the very best in imagination, exploration, creativity and humanitarian service,” said Linda A. Carlisle, state cultural resources secretary.

Rash said he is particularly gratified to receive the award “because my family has such deep roots in North Carolina going all the way back to the 1700s.”

Rash put the final touches on his latest novel, The Cove, this summer, and the book will be released in April. His other eight fiction books include the best-selling novel Serena and the short story collection Burning Bright, which garnered him the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for the short story literary form.

In July, Rash learned that Burning Bright had been named the top fiction work for 2011 by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Rash previously won that award twice for his novels Serena and Saints at the River, and this year marked the first time a short story collection had won the SIBA’s fiction honor. Another literary milestone that occurred for Rash over the summer was the release of his fourth book of poetry, Waking.

On the same day state officials announced that Rash would receive a North Carolina Award, he was in West Virginia to accept the 2011 Appalachian Heritage Writers Award from Shepherd University and to deliver the keynote address for the university’s Appalachian Heritage Week.

A native of Boiling Springs, Rash teaches Appalachian literature and creative writing at WCU.

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