Celebrities join CSU’s national ‘My Carson McCullers’ series

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Did you know Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell and “Game of Thrones” co-creator David Benioff are among A-list talent connected to CSU’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians?

Yes, it is true. Each is a huge fan of the center’s original resident who became one of the most significant American writers of the 20th century: Carson McCullers.

As part of CSU’s yearlong 100th birthday celebration for the late author, the McCullers Center launches its newest series titled “My Carson McCullers.”

“The series is all about a large number of famous, talented and accomplished people who self-identify as lovers of Carson McCullers,” said Nick Norwood, director of the center. “Karen Allen is one of them, and we were thrilled to serve as executive producers of her debut film as a director, which is based on the McCullers story of the same name, ‘A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.’”

After making appearances in Columbus, Nyack and at the international McCullers conference in Rome, Italy, as part of McCullers’ 100th birthday celebration, Allen graciously agreed to extend her support of the McCullers Center even further by becoming CSU’s first celebrity endorser for the series.

“Columbus might be surprised to know how many well-known people are not just fans of McCullers but count her among their major influences: Julia Roberts, Suzanne Vega, Judd Apatow, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, Madonna, Joyce Carol Oates, William Trevor, Edward Albee, Simon Callow, Don Henley, Nancy Griffith, Jonathan Demme, Sam Shepard and Michael Stipe,” Norwood said. “The range of McCullers’s influence is astonishing, and that in itself is something Columbus and CSU ought to celebrate and be proud of.”

Other local and national McCullers enthusiasts participating in the educational series: Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, W.C. Bradley CEO Marc Olivié and novelist Melissa Pritchard.

When McCullers relocated from Columbus to Nyack, New York, as an adult, some of her best friends included the late actress Marilyn Monroe, writer Truman Capote and playwright Tennessee Williams.

Throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, the university has held a host of campus and community events commemorating the famed author’s centennial birthday, which initiated mid-February and was titled “Carson at 100.”

Now 50 years after her death, the university continues to acknowledge her life and work still impacting student artists to famous personalities in literature and entertainment. CSU will hold the following events to close out McCullers’ 100th birthday year and commemorate the 50th anniversary of her death while introducing this permanent series honoring her literary legacy:

  • Friday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m.: CSU archivist Tom Converse speaks about “The Archival Afterlife of Carson McCullers” as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the writer’s death. Columbus Library Auditorium.

  • Sunday, Oct. 1, 4-6 p.m.: Opening reception for a temporary art installation by the Selvage Collective — a textile facsimile of the original back fence of the Smith-McCullers House — along with a reading by former writing fellow Mylène Dressler. Smith-McCullers House, 1519 Stark Ave.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.: David Diamond Reading & Recital Series, featuring Adeline DeBella (flute), Agustin Rosado Marquez (guitar) and Steven Reynolds (poetry and prose). Arnold Hall Google Steps.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.: David Diamond Reading & Recital Series, featuring Angelou String Quartet: Maalik Glover (violin), Aisha Saif (violin), Nikko White (viola), Rae Baker (cello) and Tonya Streeter (poetry and prose). Arnold Hall Google Steps.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.: Georgia Poetry Circuit reading by award-winning poet Erica Dawson. Arnold Hall Auditorium.

Visit mccullerscenter.org to learn more.