Fall Lines – a literary convergence launches third issue with a reception and reading at Tapp’s Arts Center July 28th

Fall Lines  


The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain. 


Jasper Magazine, in partnership with Richland Library, USC Press, One Columbia, Muddy Ford Press, and The Jasper Project will release the third annual issue of Fall Lines – a literary convergence on Thursday, July 28th from 7 – 9 pm at a free reception at Tapp’s Arts Center. An annual literary journal based in Columbia, SC, Fall Lines was conceived as a mechanism for highlighting Columbia as the literary arts capitol of South Carolina.

A panel of judges selected 30 pieces of poetry and prose, from hundreds of international submissions, for publication in Fall Lines alongside invited pieces from Ron Rash, Terrance Hayes, Pam Durban, Laurel Blossom, and Patricia Moore-Pastides. Two prizes for the literary arts, sponsored by Friends of the Richland Library, will also be awarded including the Saluda River Prize for Poetry to Kathleen Nalley for her poem, “The Last Man on the Moon,” and the Broad River Prize for Prose, awarded to Claire Kemp for her short fiction, “The Dollmaker.”  Adjudicators included SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth and award-winning author Julia Elliott. In addition, Fall Lines will also publish the winner of the 2016 South Carolina Academy of Authors Coker Fiction Fellowship, “I Can’t Remember What I Was Trying to Forget,” by Phillip Gardner.

The awards ceremony and reception will also feature readings by selected authors whose work is published in this issue of Fall Lines: Scott Chalupa, David Travis Bland, Matthew O’Leary, Mike Miller, Claire Kemp, Kathleen Nalley. Tim Conroy, Julie Bloemeke, Eileen Scharenbroch, Jonathan Butler, and Mark Rodehorst.

The editors of Fall Lines, Cindi Boiter, Ed Madden, and Kyle Petersen, are deeply appreciative of this year’s sponsors including Jonathan and Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Richland Library, One Columbia for Arts and History, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, the SC Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosewood Art and Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2017, and The Whig.

For more information please contact Cindi Boiter at cindiboiter@gmail.com.

One Book, One Poem finalists II: Rieppe Moore

Yesterday we published poems by Lauren Allen and Dianne Turgeon Richardson, finalists in the One Book, One Poem contest, which Jasper sponsored in conjunction with the second annual One Book, One Columbia program.  

As we noted yesterday, we invited poets from the greater Columbia area to submit poems inspired by Ron Rash’s novel Saints at the River, and Rash himself judged the contest.  The winning poems, by Will Garland and Debra Daniel, will be published in the new issue of Jasper, to be released Thursday, Nov. 15.


But we’re publishing the finalists in advance right here on the Jasper blog!


Again, congratulations to Lauren Allen, Rieppe Moore, and Dianne Turgeon Richardson, who were all finalists in the contest.


Rieppe Moore actually had two poems among the finalists, “Three Things One Moment Before Summer” and “Waters Remember (Keowee No. 1).”  Moore is a southern poet who lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Cherith. He graduated from Columbia International University with a BA in Humanities. He is the author of Windows Behind the Veil and Letters to Ethiopia.  While in his first year teaching high school English, he began writing his third chapbook to be published in 2013.  He and his wife are the proud owners of a locally renowned Pogs collection.


Of his poems, Moore says, “Since reading Saints at the River, I've found Rash's concept of the ‘thing past’ haunting my lines.  In Rash's fiction the past overflows with ghosts—failures, disappointments, urgings, and trials that his characters experience.  During a recent photo shoot, I revisited a vacant farm in Blythewood , but when I arrived the farm had been harvested—only a few embarrassing wall frames and roofs remained.  When I raised my SLR to shoot the rural wreckage I couldn't even remember what I had initially seen there.  I had lost the vision and the mind's eye; I couldn't find the right angles; I strove to position myself.”


Below are Moore’s poems.


* * *


Three Things One Moment Before Summer


The dogwoods are just gathering

clusters of innocence in their fists


as evidence that they got a

dull name. Redbud, jessamine


also answer to the viscid moisture

in air that is a stagnant spirit


summoning a god whose only

power is making beauty by calling


buds to open with the subtlety of

an alligator’s eyes that don’t surprise


as much as marvel vision at the door


of the coming season, when trees

will throw their petals to


the ground like constellations

loosed from gravity.


These spent garlands will mingle

with indiscriminate trashes


of brown paper bags and plastic

glasses (surviving the streets)


a throng of wastes, wasted of

similarities like many family generations


in a room all at once with dissonant

voices or like a stream always


speaking of every section of itself.



* * *


Waters Remember

(Keowee No. 1)



Pearling clouds swoon

over lambent, lapidary


waters for a moment.


August thunderstorms

on Keowee don’t soothe


the lake’s eager thirst


but pass along with a chill

of frisson.


Don’t count

raindrops that wrinkle


shuddersinged giggles

from the Spring. Here


breeze speaks of that

inundated town since,


absconded from trees –

black graveyard fields.


Here trout drink want


for waste of currents in

mass waters remember.



* * *

Congratulations again to our finalists—Lauren Allen, Rieppe Moore, and Dianne Turgeon Richardson.  And congratulations, as well, to our winners: Debbie Daniel and Will Garland.  Be sure to pick up the new Jasper (released on Nov. 15) to read the winning poems!



One Book, One Poem Finalists: Lauren Allen and Dianne Turgeon Richardson

Last spring, Jasper sponsored the One Book, One Poem contest in conjunction with the second annual One Book, One Columbia program, sponsored by Richland County Public Library, which featured Ron Rash’s Saints at the River. We invited poets from the greater Columbia area to submit poems inspired by Rash’s novel, and Rash himself agreed to judge the contest. A poet as well as a novelist, Rash said he had a hard time picking the winner, and in the end, he decided it was a tie. The winning poems, by Will Garland and Debra Daniel, will be published in the new issue of Jasper, to be released Thursday, Nov. 15.

But before then, we’re publishing the finalists here on the Jasper blog!

Congratulations to Lauren Allen, Rieppe Moore, and Dianne Turgeon Richardson, who were all finalists in the contest. Their fine poems were among those that made Rash’s judging so difficult. Today we publish Allen and Richardson’s work, tomorrow Moore’s.

* * *

Dianne Turgeon Richardson is from Columbia, SC, and holds degrees from both the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina. She currently lives with her husband and two mutts in Orlando, FL, where she is pursuing an MFA from the University of Central Florida and is the managing editor of The Florida Review.

Of her poem, “Elegy,” Richardson said, “It's hard to think on Saints At the River without giving some consideration to death by drowning. I have often heard people say that drowning would be one of the worst ways to die, but is it? I was writing a lot about landscape at the time I wrote this poem, and I felt that if I must ‘return to the dust’ as they say, the South Carolina Blue Ridge would be one of the most beautiful places to do so. I wanted to present death, even sudden death, as peaceful instead of fearful.”


This is how you’ll end: water to water, womb to womb, whippoorwill for a dirge, pine trees for pallbearers. You go – wrapped in river satin – go and cross over. Every molecule of wayfaring water vibrates with your memory, your name echoes down the escarpment, the weathered arms of Appalachia cradle you in sleep, whisper lullabies as old as Earth. This is a good way to go.

* * *

Lauren Allen is a professional horse trainer in Camden, South Carolina and is earning her MFA degree in Creative Nonfiction at the University of South Carolina. She says, “I was interested in the undercurrents in Rash's Saints at the River. The ideas about wilderness, stewardship and ownership resonated with me, and as someone who moved across the country to Los Angeles and then eventually returned to my rural roots, I recognized the conflict between love of a place and the need to escape.”

Here’s Lauren’s poem, “corduroy road.”

corduroy road clay the colors of sunset only a witness tree witnesses me trespassing

who owns this land I know the secrets of these woods the hiding places the crumbled cornerstones of foundations

traces of the old road eye-closing scent of crabapple the rise and fall deer trails where ruts disgorge

sandstone eggs hatch Indian paint try to ignore the yipping coyote came from somewhere else

traps are everywhere I used to think I too would chew my leg off to escape

* * *

Check back tomorrow for poems by Rieppe Moore, who had two poems among the finalists. And be sure to pick up the new Jasper (released on Nov. 15) to read the winning poems.

One Book, Two Poems: One Poem contest winners and finalists announced!

Poet and novelist Ron Rash had a hard time picking the winner of the One Book, One Poem contest, and in the end, he decided it was a tie. Will Garland and Debra Daniels are the winners of the contest, for their poems “Swimming Out by the Dam” and “Inside the Silvered Breath.” Both poems will be published in Jasper later this year. Five additional poems were named finalists: “corduroy road” by Lauren Allen, “Muddied Bottoms” by Will Garland (author of one of the winning poems as well), “Waters Remember (Keowee No. 1)” and “Three Things One Moment Before Summer” by Rieppe Moore, and “Elegy” by Dianne Turgeon Richardson.

Of the two winning poems, Rash wrote, “These two poems remind us that the best poetry is written for the ear as much as the eye. I am gratified to have had the opportunity to experience them.”

Jasper sponsored the One Book, One Poem contest in conjunction with the second annual One Book, One Columbia program. The book chosen for 2012 was Ron Rash’s Saints at the River, and a number of events tied to the book were scheduled in January and February, including a packed presentation by Rash at the Bostick Auditorium in Richland County Public Library.

Rash also agreed to judge Jasper’s One Book, One Poem contest, which invited poets from the greater Columbia area to submit poems inspired by Rash’s novel. Not only will the two winning poems will be published in Jasper later this year, but the authors will also receive a literary arts prize package. The finalists will be published later this year right here on the Jasper blog.

Jasper congratulates Will Garland and Debra Daniels, this year’s winners, and the finalists, Lauren Allen, Rieppe Moore, and Dianne Turgeon Richardson. Jasper also thanks all the participants who entered, and who made the judging so difficult because of the range and beauty of the work submitted.

The One Book, One Columbia program hopes to create a sense of community through a shared reading experience, encouraging residents of the greater Columbia area to read the same book at the same time. For more information on the One Book, One Columbia program, see http://www.myrcpl.com/onebook.

One Poem Competition & Grace on a beautiful Sunday

Jasper was pretty psyched to visit the mailbox yesterday and find all those last minute entries for the Jasper Magazine One Poem Competition. It was heart-warming to think of all those folks who remembered just-in-time to print out their poems, write a quick check, and rush to the PO to submit their poetry. And, looking through the entries, it was also inspiring to see that, mixed in with some familiar names of friends and professional poets in the area, there were also many, many new names.* But then we got to thinking about all those folks who, for one reason or another, had intended on posting their submissions at the last minute but weren't able to. Who knows why? They got stuck in traffic, their daughter came down with the chicken pox, the in-laws dropped by, they were hung over, whatever. And then, we felt sad.

But then, we do what we do when we feel sad.** We listen to music. And what did we hear but the Sunday morning sermon of Pastor Bono urging us to practice probably the most worthy of all attributes, grace.

So on those lovely notes, Jasper is pleased to announce -- the One Book, One Poem Competition Grace Period!

For all you poets and people with poems just bursting from your heads and hearts who let the March 31st deadline slip by*** -- no worries! As long as we receive your submissions by Saturday April 7th -- it's all good.

And what could be more evocative of the themes and images from the book Saints at the River than a beautiful afternoon like this one? Nature, family, growth, rivers, death, fathers, friends, photography ... any of these themes and more are eligible for the contest.

So, pull out that Steno pad and Ticonderoga #2 and show us what you've got, Columbia. We look forward to hearing from you by the 7th.

*It's OK if Jasper sees who the entrants are because we're playing secretary and sending the coded but nameless entries over to our literary arts editor Ed Madden, who will winnow them down before he sends them off to our judge, Saints at the River author Ron Rash.

**Besides eat ice cream & drink rich, full-bodied cabs.

***As well as for any of you (and there are some of  you) who forgot to put that little checkie in the mail with your entry and therefore won't actually be eligible for the competition. ($5 entry covers three poems, $10 covers six, $15 covers nine ...)




Silas House and the Southern Writers Series Tuesday night at RCPL + 10 Things You May Not Know About Silas House


Got this message below from our friends at the Richland County Public Library and wanted to share it with Jasper's readers. This truly is an exciting week for the literary arts in Columbia! Silas House on Tuesday and Ron Rash on Wednesday -- both at our downtown library. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Read about Silas House and the Southern Writers Series below. Read about Ron Rash here and here.

Southern Writers Series Returns to RCPL in 2012
Join the Friends of the Richland County Public Library and the University of South Carolina Institute for Southern Studies for a book discussion and signing by Silas House, the first of four events in the 2012 Southern Writers Series that features several of the South’s best authors, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31 at the Main Library, 1431 Assembly St.
Silas House is the award-winning author of four previous novels, two plays, and a book of creative nonfiction.  His fifth novel, a young adult novel entitled Same Sun Here and co-written with Neela Vaswani, will be published in early 2012.  A teacher and environmental activist as well as an author and editor, House is the creator of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival and directs the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College.
Ten Things You May Not Know About Silas House
  1. Silas House is the author of four novels:  Clay’s Quilt (2001), A Parchment of Leaves (2003), The Coal Tattoo (2004), Eli the Good (2009), two plays, The Hurting Part (2005) and Long Time Travelling (2009), and Something’s Rising (2009), a creative nonfiction book about social protest co-authored with Jason Howard.
  2. House was selected to edit the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James StillChinaberry.
  3. House’s young adult novel, Same Sun Here, co-written with Neela Vaswani, will be published by Candlewick Books in early 2012.
  4. House serves as the Director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.
  5. House is a former contributing editor for No Depression magazine, where he has done long features on such artists as Lucinda Williams, Nickel Creek, and many others.  He is also one of Nashville’s most in-demand press kit writers, having written the press kit bios for such artists as Kris Kristofferson, Kathy Mattea, Leann Womack, and others.
  6. A former writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University, he is the creator of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.
  7. House is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, the Lee Smith Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and many other honors.
  8. For his environmental activism House received the Helen Lewis Community Service Award in 2008 from the Appalachian Studies Association.
  9. House’s work can be found in The New York Times, NewsdayOxford American, BayouThe Southeast Review,The Louisville ReviewThe Beloit Fiction JournalWindNight Train, and others, as well as in the anthologies The Southern Poetry Anthology:  Volume 3, New Stories From the South 2004:  The Year’s BestChristmas in the SouthA Kentucky ReaderOf Woods and WaterMotif, We All Live Downstream, Missing MountainsA Kentucky ChristmasShouts and WhispersHigh HorseThe Alumni GrillStories From the Blue Moon Café I and II, and many others.
  10. House is the father of two daughters.


 (10 Things courtesy of the Silas House website at  http://silashouse.weebly.com/index.html.)




An Article on Ron Rash, author of the 2012 One Book, One Columbia selection, Saints at the River

Ron Rash – The Great Joy of Reading Southern Writing

reprinted from Jasper #003

By Cynthia Boiter

Ron Rash speaks the way he writes, with a voice that is rich with history, low and close to the earth, reflecting the humble wisdom that comes from learning from the past and listening to the lessons of nature and the stories of one’s ancestors. A father, teacher, husband, poet, Rash is, above all, a gifted wordsmith who wraps his words around his readers with tender precision.

Born in Chester, South Carolina, Rash’s people, as Southerners say, are from the North Carolina mountains, and much of his childhood was spent visiting relatives who lived in the shadows of the Appalachians. The author of  a baker’s dozen of books – four novels, with one forthcoming in April, four short story collections, and five books of poetry - Rash hasn’t always written, though he seems to do so with such ease. “I didn’t write as a child,” he says, “though I loved to read and I loved nature. I was very comfortable out in the woods. I loved to daydream. Really, I was pretty introverted.”

Rash didn’t begin writing until he was an English major at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. “It wasn’t something I really enjoyed,” the 2011 inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers says. “But when I started working on my master’s degree at Clemson, I got into the work of Walker Percy, and that really influenced me. I found myself reading and writing all the time.” Percy, who died in 1990, was a physician-novelist and non-fiction writer; the author of The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, and others, Percy was one of the founders in 1987 of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and known for his existentialist literary struggles, as well as for coming late, though very successfully, to writing himself.

It was the reading of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that “made me want to be a writer,” Rash says. Early in the novel, an unscrupulous pawnbroker is killed by a poor ex-student who plans to use the pawnbroker’s money to do good deeds. “It was almost like this book entered me,” Rash reveals. “I’ve read and re-read it several times – I still almost revere Dostoyevsky as a writer.”

An early and multiple winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project, previously sponsored by The State newspaper and then by the Charleston Post and Courier, Rash began his writing career as a poet and short story writer. His first publications were The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth and Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina, a book of short stories published in 1994, and Eureka Mill, a book of poetry published in 1998. In 1994, Rash won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, and in 1996, the Sherwood Anderson Prize for emerging fiction writers.

“A short story is much closer to a poem than a novel,” Rash says, explaining that he much prefers short story writing and poetry to writing novels. “It is just so much more concise.”

In 2000, he published a trio of poetry and prose books, Among the Believers, Raising the Dead and Casualties, before finally, in 2002, publishing his first novel, One Foot in Eden, winner of Forward Magazine’s Gold Award for the Best Literary Fiction, the Novello Literary Award, and the Appalachian Book of the Year, all for 2002.

But Rash, who is now the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University didn’t plan to write the novel.

“I was in my early forties and I was writing what I thought would be a short story, but it just wouldn’t end. And I got this sinking feeling,” he laughs, explaining how the novel just grew before him almost of its own accord. “With a novel, you have to have a mill-like diligence to get it done. It is much more exhausting. And it takes me about three years to put a novel together.”

Rash followed One Foot in Eden, a murder mystery heavily shrouded in place and culture, with the novels Saints at the River in 2004, The World Made Straight in 2006, and Serena in 2008.

Set in 1929 in the virginal mountains of North Carolina, Serena is the gripping story of a newly married couple who commit themselves to building a fortune in the timber industry. The book won a multitude of awards and accolades including the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Book of the Year Award and being named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, as well as one of The New York Times’ Ten Favorite Books, the Washington Post’s World’s Best Fiction, number seven in Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of 2008, and it was a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award in 2009.  Of particular note is how the novel successfully portrays an ambitious and greedy entrepreneur who just happens to be a woman – rather than falling into the all too often tripped trap of portraying a ne’er do well who never does well precisely because she is a woman.

Rash is proud of his work on Serena though he admits the writing of it was an exhausting endeavor. “I feel like Serena is my best book, and the best I’ll ever write,” he says. “But Serena probably took more out of me than any other book. I had days and weeks when it was just flowing. But it wore me out.”

Rash’s third novel, The World Made Straight, published two years prior to Serena, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award in 2006, as well as the Atlantic Monthly’s 2006 Summer Reading pick, and the 2007 American Library Association Alex Award, and addressed similar themes of environment, history and family – all within the context of a classic Southern connection to the earth and nature.

Also exploring issues of frailty as exhibited by relationships, the environment, and ultimately, life itself, 2004’s Saints at the River was chosen as the 2012 selection for the One Book, One Columbia campaign – a community reading program in which the entire city of Columbia and its surroundings are encouraged to read and discuss the same book over the designated period of January 17 through the end of February, 2012. Saints at the River is set in South Carolina with a significant portion of the action taking place in Columbia, and the two main characters being Columbia residents. The novel begins with the death of a 12-year-old girl who drowns in the fictional Tamassee River in upstate South Carolina and whose body becomes trapped below the river. The conflict of the story centers around the best way of removing her body, and locals, environmentalists, and a land owner with an eye toward development all disagree.

“I wanted to write a novel about environmental issues that didn’t come off as propaganda,” Rash says. “A lot of time environmentalists make the mistake of not seeing the other point of view. I hope Saints at the River will allow people to say that it is a fair book. Progress is not a black or white situation and the problem in this story isn’t either. There are no bad guys, and sympathies shift throughout the book.”

The connection to the environment that Rash tends to feature in all of his novels comes naturally. “I spent so much of my childhood and adolescence on my grandmother’s farm near Boone, North Carolina, and I loved hunting and fishing but also being nomadic – just wandering through the woods,” he says. “There was no TV, no car or truck. I was there helping her on the farm – milking cows and such. She would fix me a good breakfast in the morning – and I would be gone for eight or nine hours, just wandering or fishing. We had relatives all around that area, and occasionally I’d see an aunt or uncle. … But, looking back on it now, it was all sort of amazing and wonderful. I got to hear that mountain dialect, and that’s what I hear in my head now when I write.”

Family, too, both dysfunctional and not, almost always plays a role in Rash’s stories, and Saints at the River is no exception. “It’s universal,” he says. “There’s always tension between love and loyalties and conflict.” One example, he notes, is the relationship between the protagonist of the novel, photographer Maggie Glenn, and her father, a prototypical Southern man. Rash describes Maggie as “a little self-righteous” but recognizes the difficulties she has communicating with her father and the role that heritage plays in that relationship. “There’s that Scots-Irish mentality cropping up in Maggie’s inability to communicate with her father,” he says. “It is very hard to get that generation of men to express their feelings.”

Not a fan of generalizations, Rash says he hopes his writing helps to “explode some of the stereotypes” that plague Southern literature. That said, most of the writers who have inspired Rash are Southern. Despite the stereotypes that arose from the film treatment of Deliverance, for example, he still lists South Carolina’s James Dickey high on his list of personally influential writers. “He taught me a lot,” Rash says of Dickey. “He showed me the possibility of writing about the South and also being universal.” Rash also highly regards the work of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor and can see their influence in his own work. “Reading Flannery and Faulkner has always been important to me because they showed the rural Southern world that I’m interested in,” he says.

No stranger to honors and awards – Saints at the River was given the Weatherford Award for Best Novel of 2004, and was named Fiction Book of the Year by the Southern Critics Book Circle as well as the Southeastern Booksellers Association – Rash wears a kind of uncomfortable humility when asked about all the accolades he has accrued in a still relatively young writing career. “I’m probably most proud of the Frank O’Connor Award,” he admits, which he received in 2010 for his collection, Burning Bright, also published in 2010. The Frank O’Connor Short Story Award is the largest short story prize in the world.

Despite his fairly universal success in all three genres of short and longer fiction as well as poetry, Rash appears to be most comfortable with short fiction which, he admits, also employs some degree of poetry. Commenting on his new novel, The Cove, due for released in April 2012, Rash lets out a long breath and admits that he doesn’t think he’ll ever write another novel again. “The last one, I believe, is good,” he says, “but there was little joy in the writing.”

Luckily, there is great joy in the reading of Rash’s works, whether short fiction, novels, or poetry. And happily, Columbia-area book lovers will be able to make that great joy their own by joining one another in 2012’s One Book, One Columbia program as we read Ron Rash’s Saints at the River.




Jasper Magazine announces the

Jasper Magazine One Book, One Poem Competition

Ron Rash, author of this year's One Book, One Columbia selection, Saints at the River, has agreed to serve as adjudicator for the Jasper Magazine One Book, One Poem Competition.

Poets from the Greater Columbia Arts Community are invited to submit poetry inspired by the reading of Saints at the River.  Author Ron Rash's selection of the winning poem will be published in a future issue of Jasper Magazine - the Word on Columbia Arts, and its author will receive a literary arts prize package.

Finalists, adjudicated by Jasper Magazine literary arts editor, Dr. Ed Madden, will be published in the Jasper Magazine blog - What Jasper Said. (www.jaspercolumbia.net/blog).  The deadline is March 31, 2012.

Fine Print:  Please submit (in triplicate) poems inspired by the reading of Saints at the River by Ron Rash to -

                Jasper Magazine One Book, One Poem Competition Muddy Ford Press 1009 Muddy Ford Road Chapin, SC 29036.

Please include a cover sheet including your name, address, phone number, email address, and the title or first line of each poem. Your name should appear nowhere else on your submissions. Entry fee = $5 per each three poems submitted (make checks payable to Muddy Ford Press). Deadline = March 31, 2012.

For more information contact - editor@jaspercolumbia.com.

Jasper's Nightstand -- Don't call it a book club, call it a book trust

By now, it should be news to no one that Columbia, SC is a readers' city. I need more fingers than the ones I have on my hands to count the number of book clubs I know about that I don't even belong to.

Some may attribute our propensity for reading to the number of institutions of higher education we have in and around town. Universities and colleges tend to attract not only students and faculty but also literate individuals who are drawn to progressive thought and intellectual engagement, whether they go to school or not. Others may posit that the lack of hard hitting cerebral stimulation from our public education system forces us, at an early age, to seek out our own intellectual adventures in books and, ultimately, establish a life-long love of losing ourselves in literature (and, for some of us clearly, loving the lilt of alliteration).

For whatever reason, last June, Columbia was named by Amazon as one of the Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in the country.

In fact, we're #16.

You may have heard What Jasper Said yesterday about the new One Book, One Columbia selection of Ron Rash's Saints at the River as our book selection for 2012. Given that, we at Jasper are delighted to announce our new bi-monthly reading group, Jasper's Nightstand and, in keeping with our close association with the One Book, One Columbia Project (Mike and Cindi are both on the selection committee), we are even more thrilled to announce that Saints at the River will be the first book we'll be discussing.

What's on Jasper's Nightstand?

Saints at the River by Ron Rash

Thursday, February 23rd at 7 PM

Wine Down on Main at 1520 Main Street

RSVP here

Jasper's Nightstand is a book club for artists, people who love arts and artists, and people who appreciate the unique insights that artists and arts lovers bring to the complexities of life.


Saints at the River by Ron Rash = Columbia's 2012 One Book, One Columbia selection

It's official. Saints at the River, a novel by South Carolina author Ron Rash, is the One Book, One Columbia selection for 2012.

Jasper couldn't be more pleased!

We've loved all of Rash's novels -- Serena, One Foot in Eden, The World Made Straight (our all-time favorite!) -- not to mention his poetry, which flows with hot honeyed truth, or his short stories that stay on the brain for years after the reading. Saints at the River is the story of two characters who live in Columbia -- one of whom hails from the upstate and is drawn back into the area where she was raised by an environmental conflict. It touches on family, nature, loss, and learning.

The reading period will kick off on January 17th -- but you don't have to wait until then to get started. We'll be scheduling events from the 17th throughout the month of February -- including a two day visit from Rash on February 1st and 2nd -- stay tuned for more about this.

For more information, keep your eyes posted on the One Book, One Columbia official website as well as our One Book Facebook page.

And be sure to pick up a copy of Jasper Magazine at our #3 release event on January 12th at the Arcade Mall on Main Street to read an article about our interview with Ron Rash himself.

Jasper has a thing for the work of Ron Rash

Jasper is not afraid to admit that he has a bit of an addictive personality. He gets a little taste of something and has trouble letting go. Sometimes it's a yummy bourbon -- Woodford Reserve has his attention these days -- and other times it's a great choreographer or director. (Case in point -- our recent post on David Mamet.) Lately we've been almost overcome by our hunger for the writing of Mr. Ron Rash. One of our own, Rash was born in Chester, SC and raised in Boiling Springs, NC. He Went to Gardner-Webb University and then to Clemson, and now he serves as the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.

Although we had read many of Mr. Rash's short stories in the past -- actually, one of our short stories was included alongside one of Mr. Rash's in a 2001 anthology  (Inheritance, edited by Janette Turner Hospital and published by Hub City Press) -- we hadn't picked up any of his novels until this summer. Serena changed all that.

Set in the North Carolina mountains of 1929, Serena is the story of a badass female protagonist, as malicious as Simon Legree and more capable than most men then or now. Although decidedly sexual, Serena does not use her sexuality to bestow her brand of evil on the people and land she exploits -- Rash has too much respect for her as a villain to make her formulaic. And though he affords us glimpses into her history, he doesn't invite the reader to justify her immorality by casting her as a victim. She's just bad -- and from an odd angle of feminism, that makes us happy.

Our next foray into Rash's novels was Saints at the River, a book Jasper is campaigning for as the next One Book, One Columbia selection. The story is set in the upstate but the main characters are a writer and a photographer from Columbia, who often return to our neck of the woods when not actively investigating an environmental conflict in the upcountry. We won't give much more away here lest we step on our other committee members' toes or let the cat out of the bag or some other cliché. Suffice it to say that we are confident enough to recommend Saints at the River to several thousand of our closest friends.

Third on our list of Rash books was The World Made Straight, which may be our favorite thus far. It's a story of a boy and a field of weed and an unlikely mentor, but most of all it's a story of guilt and how we can inherit it just by being born. One of us at Muddy Ford wasn't even able to finish this book before her fellow traveler started reading it himself.

Luckily, One Foot in Eden, another of Rash's novels is already waiting on the nightstand upstairs. After we're through with it, we may have some problems though -- we'll let you know. In the meantime, here's a Ron Rash essay we nabbed from Amazon. Enjoy.


The Gift of Silence: An Essay by Ron Rash

When readers ask how I came to be a writer, I usually mention several influences: my parents’ teaching by example the importance of reading; a grandfather who, though illiterate, was a wonderful storyteller; and, as I grew older, an awareness that my region had produced an inordinate number of excellent writers and that I might find a place in that tradition. Nevertheless, I believe what most made me a writer was my early difficulty with language.

My mother tells me that certain words were impossible for me to pronounce, especially those with j’s and g’s. Those hard consonants were like tripwires in my mouth, causing me to stumble over words such as “jungle” and “generous.” My parents hoped I would grow out of this problem, but by the time I was five, I’d made no improvement. There was no speech therapist in the county, but one did drive in from the closest city once a week.

That once a week was a Saturday morning at the local high school. For an hour the therapist worked with me. I don’t remember much of what we did in those sessions, except that several times she held my hands to her face as she pronounced a word. I do remember how large and empty the classroom seemed with just the two of us in it, and how small I felt sitting in a desk made for teenagers.

I improved, enough so that by summer’s end the therapist said I needed no further sessions. I still had trouble with certain words (one that bedevils me even today is “gesture”), but not enough that when I entered first grade my classmates and teacher appeared to notice. Nevertheless, certain habits of silence had taken hold. It was not just self-consciousness. Even before my sessions with the speech therapist, I had convinced myself that if I listened attentively enough to others my own tongue would be able to mimic their words. So I listened more than I spoke. I became comfortable with silence, and, not surprisingly, spent a lot of time alone wandering nearby woods and creeks. I entertained myself with stories I made up, transporting myself into different places, different selves. I was in training to be a writer, though of course at that time I had yet to write more than my name.

Yet my most vivid memory of that summer is not the Saturday morning sessions at the high school but one night at my grandmother’s farmhouse. After dinner, my parents, grandmother and several other older relatives gathered on the front porch. I sat on the steps as the night slowly enveloped us, listening intently as their tongues set free words I could not master. Then it appeared. A bright-green moth big as an adult’s hand fluttered over my head and onto the porch, drawn by the light filtering through the screen door. The grown-ups quit talking as it brushed against the screen, circled overhead, and disappeared back into the night. It was a luna moth, I learned later, but in my mind that night it became indelibly connected to the way I viewed language--something magical that I grasped at but that was just out of reach.

In first grade, I began learning that loops and lines made from lead and ink could be as communicative as sound. Now, almost five decades later, language, spoken or written, is no longer out of reach, but it remains just as magical as that bright-green moth. What writer would wish it otherwise.


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