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Writing competition winners announced

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

Ron Rash, Shepherd University’s recent Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence, selected the winners of the West Virginia Fiction Competition.

Jim Koenig of Harpers Ferry received the $500 first prize for his story “Carry Me to the River.” Paul Kessler, a Shepherd University student in Carrie Messinger’s Creative Writing program, was selected by Rash for the second place prize for his story “The Water Beneath.” The third place prize was shared by Michelle Yost, a Fairmont University student, and Jeremiah Shelor of Morgantown, for their stories “The Transformation of Acteon” and “The Tragedy of Woodrow Monroe,” respectively. The winning stories can be seen at the Appalachian Heritage Fiction Competition website at www.shepherd.edu/ahwirweb/new_writers.html.

During his weeklong residency at Shepherd, Rash, an award-winning poet and fiction writer, was presented the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award.

He is serving as editorial advisor to the upcoming Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Ron Rash, Volume IV, produced by Shepherd’s Writers Project which is funded by the West Virginia Center for the Book, West Virginia Humanities Council, and Shepherd University Foundation.

Rash has published many award-winning books, including collections of poetry such as Eureka Mill (1998), Among the Believers (2000) and Raising the Dead (2002). His novels include One Foot in Eden (2002), Saints at the River (2004), The World Made Straight (2006) and Serena (2008). Rash’s other story collections include Casualties (2000), Chemistry and Other Stories (2007) and his latest collection Burning Bright (2010). The quality of Rash’s work has placed him into a select group of American and Appalachian writers that includes Fred Chappell, Denise Giardina, Silas House and Robert Morgan, all of whom have received Shepherd’s Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award.

Rash’s work is richly reflective of the cultural traditions of the region and prescient with contemporary issues and ideas that transcend the region. Among Rash’s other awards are The Sherwood Anderson Prize (1996), Appalachian Book of the Year for One Foot in Eden (2002), Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Saints at the River (2004), O. Henry Prize (2005) and a Pen/Faulkner Finalist (2009) for Serena.

Rash currently holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University and was most recently awarded the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize for Burning Bright.