Mercer to award writer Ron Rash with prize for Southern literature

Ron Rash

Mercer University’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies will award the 2020 Thomas Robinson Prize for Southern Literature to poet, short story writer and novelist Ron Rash.

The prize will be presented Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. in a livestreamed ceremony at

“The Robinson Prize is especially meaningful to me because, as a beginning writer, the work of several previous winners was crucial, especially that of Lee Smith, Wendell Berry, Ernest Gaines and Fred Chappell,” said Rash. “Their writing continues to inspire me, and I am honored to join them as a prize winners.”

Rash was born in Chester, South Carolina, and earned his undergraduate degree from Gardner-Webb University and master’s degree from Clemson University. He currently serves as John Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies in the English Department at Western Carolina University.

“In poetry and prose, Ron Rash depicts the lives and longings of people living precariously in southern Appalachia. His work describes both God and nature as unforgiving, leaving people to struggle and work to survive while they search for brief moments of peace. Rash has made major contributions to the complicated tradition of Southern writing, and the Robinson Prize committee is proud to present him with the prize in recognition of his work,” said Dr. David A. Davis, chair of the Robinson Prize Committee and associate professor of English at Mercer.

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