Matthew Mulder is a designer. Former lead designer for Orison Books, he crafted and illustrated the award-winning book Requiem for Used Ignition Cap as well other titles including I Scrape the Window of Nothingness, The Divine Magnet, and Constellarium.
His award-winning short fiction piece “Mortal Coil” was published in Left of the Lake. Recent poetry published in Burdock. Poetry and prose appeared in Crab Creek Review, H_NGM_N, The Indie, Rapid River Magazine, ISM Quarterly, Wander, The Blotter and publications.
His article on economic and financial crisis and self-sufficient wages in an urban setting, “Why I Left Asheville,” was published in The Asheville Blade.
He is a founding member of the Rooftop Poets. From the Mountain Xpress:
“The Rooftop Poets, a collective that performs readings in venues like the Roof Garden of the Battery Park Hotel…”
—Alli Marshall, Mountain Xpress, “Rhyme and reason,” April 5, 2011, https://mountainx.com/arts/art-news/040611rhyme-and-reason/
He is the author Late Night Writing (2004) and editor of A Body Turning (2010) and Tomorrow We Sweat Poetry (2009). His new poems are anthologized in Rooftop Poets (2010). Read samples at Southern Cross Review.
I read your blog on The Asheville Blade. I want you to know I’ve lived here 16 years, have struggled every single minute, and, if I had any money I’d be driving out of here too. When I first moved here from Seattle, I didn’t do any research about this god-forsaken place. I lived on my talents and multi-faceted career skills and didn’t even consider that something insidious was afoot in Asheville. I got here and heard about an urban legend that the Vanderbilt clan intentionally kept salaries low in order to provide cheap labor at their big house. I wanted to print bumper stickers that read “Asheville – high mountains, low wages” and hand them out free, but couldn’t afford that either. I had 3 jobs when I moved here and, now at age 62, still have 3 jobs. I drive around West Asheville before rental prices drove me out and wonder how the hell can these young kids wandering up and down Haywood Road afford these to eat in these trendy restaurants. I wonder why I stayed so long….but I see light at the end of the tunnel….Social Security benefits. I fantasize about driving away from this place – this beautiful little city that our greedy Chamber of Commerce touted to the world….and they came in droves.
Good luck to you. And to all of us who got lured into this financial trap with the pretty trappings.
Thanks so much, Allison, for reading my story on The Asheville Blade. I had no idea the story I wrote would resonate with so many people (both in Asheville and beyond). The urban legend about the Vanderbuilt family suppressing wages for cheap labor force is something I have heard of. I have also heard rumor that Mission Hospital’s administration follows the same path. But that is rumor. I can only speak of my own experience — and that seems similar to your Asheville experience as well. Thank you for sharing your Asheville story with me. I wish you well.
A friend of mine emailed me the article from The Asheville Blade because it contained EVIDENCE of the very notion I’ve been screaming about for 13 years now! Although it seems that NO ONE LISTENS to the extreme down-trodden aspects of Asheville and for some reason they are moving here in droves, there are people that have caught on little by little. And then they leave. Allison Frank, you said it correct that, “…urban legend…” about the Vanderbilt family and the Biltmore legacy. I’ve heard it. I live it. I am nearly 34 years young, have a college degree, and I am a server – at a pizza joint. On the not so good days, I average making more money per hour than most people working M-F. I have done extensive ‘personal’ research on this topic and I am tired of keeping quiet. I am ready to assemble people that feel the same way I do. The people of this area will continue to enslave themselves to the blindly oppressing yet mystical allure of Asheville unless we ACT (and NO, that is not the abbreviation for Asheville Citizen Times, either). I am speaking of taking ACTION. I want to assemble something, but I need a little help. Mr. Mulder, will you please contact me. Thank you.
Thank you, Virginia, for reading my story published on The Asheville Blade. I completely agree with you. Seems like I have shared this story for at least a decade — talking with friends about it, commiserating with co-workers, chatting with bus riders on the transit system, even talking casually about the topic with a future city council member. But, like you said, it seems futile. No one seems to listen or care about the financially oppressed people of the Asheville area. I spent a year or so asking people for advice as to what to do about my personal situation. One community leader confessed that it would be best for my family to find a bigger city because there’s limited opportunity in Asheville. It would be nice if there was one institution to point at and blame for this, but the failure appears systemic. The only action that comes to mind that might bring attention to low wages and high cost of living is this: a city-wide strike. Anyone from a household who earns less than a “self-sufficient” wage refuses to work for a day. I don’t know the current demographics of this, but I suspect that at least 80% of the city would be at home. I am not sure what I can do to help, but feel free to contact me. Thanks again for reading the article I wrote! It means a lot to hear from you and others who understand what it is like.
Dude! Why did it take me so long to find you? Great blog with some genuinely great work. I see myself linking to you often (not without permission of course!). Keep living and writing the story.