First Words

Matt Cashion’s novel, OUR 13th DIVORCE, won the 2017 Edna Ferber Fiction Award, judged by Robert Olmstead, who said, “It’s terribly hard to write funny and Cashion accomplishes that with rare aplomb.”  His story collection, Last Words of the Holy Ghost, won the 2015 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for short fiction, judged by Lee K. Abbott, who said, “Listen: if you can find a collection of stories more cohesive, more ambitious in reach, more generous in its passion, and fancier in its footwork, I will buy it for you and deliver it in person.” Cashion’s first novel, How the Sun Shines on Noise, (2004) “…invites comparison’s to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces….an entertaining and memorable Southern picaresque” (Charlotte Observer).

Born in North Wilkesboro, NC, in the Blue Ridge mountains where his father’s side of the family lives and dies, he moved (at the tender age of two) to St. Simons Island and Brunswick, Ga., where his mother’s side of the family fed him well.

After barely graduating high school, he returned to North Carolina to attend Wilkes Community college and UNC Charlotte. After again barely graduating, he returned to Brunswick and worked two years as a reporter for The Brunswick News, where he accidentally won an Associated Press award for feature writing. Then, fatigued from facts, he quit and imagined bigger things. He moved pianos (briefly), and worked 3rd shift as a convenience store clerk (oh, those quiet nights). Then he heard the call. Still a young man, he went west, to the University of Oregon, who, imagine this: waived his tuition while he earned an MFA in Creative Writing!  After graduating (special forms were signed by special people), he returned to Brunswick, Ga. and gained valuable bartending experience. Then he lucked into a temporary teaching job at his alma mater (UNCC), which led to a seven-year teaching job at Mitchell Community College (Statesville, NC), which led, in 2006, to landing a gig at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, in beautiful western Wisconsin, where he is now (look Ma), a fully tenured and full Professor (especially after beer/cheese), teaching Creative Writing and life-survival skills. He lives with Heather, his wonderful partner, and a collection of wild and domestic animals.