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Ron Rash

Hub City Press
$14.95 paperback
5 ½ x 8 ½  
80 pages
October 2011

Rooted in places like Watauga County, Goshen Creek, and Dismal Mountain, the poems in Ron Rash’s fourth collection, Waking, electrify dry counties and tobacco fields until they sparkle with the rituals and traditions of Southerners in the stir of their lives.

In his first book of poetry in nearly a decade, Rash leads his readers on a Southern odyssey, full of a terse wit and a sense of the narrative so authentic it will dazzle you. As we wake inside these poems, we see rivers wild with trout, lightning storms, and homemade churches, nailed and leaning against the side of a Tennessee mountain.

A two-time PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, Rash has been compared to writers like John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy. With his eye for the perfect detail and an ear for regional idiom, Rash furthers his claim as the new torchbearer for literature in the American South.

Here is a book full of sorrow and redemption, sparseness and the beauty of a single, stark detail—the muskellunge at first light, a barn choked with curing tobacco, a porch full of men and the rockers that move them over the same spot until they carve their names into the ground, deeper, even, into the roots where myths start, into the very marrow of the world.


“Long live Ron Rash the storyteller, but here’s the news. Ron Rash the poet is back and giving us poems that are both the river stones and the water making them shine. If allowed only two words for this wonderful poet, they would have to be clear and lithe.” —Bob Hicok, author of Animal Soul, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
“Ron Rash’s Waking is a book of place, named and unnamed, the natural world, of 'mud daubers and dust motes' as well as 'stars awake in their wide pasture.' Many of the poems originate in the 'blood-memory' of shared and personal histories, and gathered here they become 'as near and known as your outstretched hand'—each poem 'aught-light' the lyric encapsulation of story, precisely and lovingly rendered. Waking is wise and beautiful." —Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Late Wife and Figure Studies
"Ron Rash's Waking welcomes us into a world where memories, like crystalline water, come 'slow and clear' yet where the past—though vividly apprehended—remains 'all beyond your reach.' He writes of the Welsh and Scots who came to Appalachia, to settle near Blowing Rock in 'Dismal,' North Carolina. He writes of their descendants—their labor, their hardships, their sense of community and beauty, their meanness and kindness. Reading these lovely poems, I think of some lines by William Carlos Williams: 'A world lost, / a world unsuspected, / beckons to new places..." —Ann Fisher-Wirth, author of Carta Marina and Five Terraces