McCullers Center Announces Recipient of First Writing Fellowship

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Columbus State University officials have announced the first recipient of a fellowship that will allow a writer to live and work this fall at CSUs Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians.

Melanie Melanie Fallon, right, a native of Scotland, said she hopes the solitude of the childhood home of McCullers on Stark Avenue in a historic south Columbus neighborhood will serve as inspiration for her own writing and allow her to complete a novel.

As much as I enjoy and learn from teaching, I have at times found the balancing act between teaching and writing difficult to maintain, said Fallon, who most recently taught at Washington University in St. Louis. It is much easier for me, often to give time to my students than to protect time for my own fiction.

Named for McCullers parents, the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers allows the recipient to live in a spacious private apartment at the center and provides $5,000 to cover transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellows are required to offer a reading or some other type of presentation of their work near the end of the residency.

Melanie Fallon was the unanimous choice of the selection committee, whose members were very impressed both with her fiction as well as her proposal and her statements about the significance of McCullers in her own life, said Cathy Fussell, director of CSUs McCullers Center.

Fallon, selected for the fellowship from among 38 applicants from across the United States, has received several awards and other recognition for her writing, including a nomination for Best New American Voices in 2004. Her short story One, Whispering Pines was published in the April 2006 issue of Yale Review.

Fallon lived in Albany, Ga., from 1978 until 1984, before my Scottish family moved back, not quite home, but to England, when I was 14.

Fallon returned to the U.S. to earn a bachelors degree in womens studies from Barnard College and a master of fine arts in fiction writing from Washington University, where she also was a teaching fellow in advanced fiction writing.

McCullers, who first experienced success as a 23-year-old with 1940s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, wrote five novels, two plays, 20 short stories and more than two dozen articles and essays before her death in 1967 after suffering a stroke.

Fallon said McCullers The Member of the Wedding, a novel that McCullers also adapted into a Broadway hit, has served as one of my biggest influences with its hypnotic language and impressionistic, almost hallucinatory, physical world.

During her lifetime, McCullers herself benefited from time spent at special writers residences, including the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont and Yaddo Arts Colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

To honor the contributions of these writers residences to McCullers work, this fellowship affords writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities, Fussell said.

For more information, call Fussell at 706-568-2054 or send e-mail to fussell_cathy@ColumbusState.edu.