McCullers Center Announces Recipient of Writing Fellowship

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians has selected award-winning novelist Mylène Dressler as its 2007 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Writing Fellow.

As the fellowship’s second recipient, Dressler will work on a new novel this fall (Sept. 1-Dec. 1) while residing in McCullers’ childhood home on Stark Avenue in a historic south Columbus neighborhood.

Mylène“For me there was no one like McCullers,” said Dressler, right. “She was the chiseler of bone; she wasn’t afraid of light and dark, or to be both earthy and intellectual. Above all, she wasn’t afraid of crimes that also happen to be truths.”

Dressler, who lives and writes in Texas and southern Utah, has published three novels, The Floodmakers, The Deadwood Beetle and The Medusa Tree, plus a number of nonfiction scholarly works.

“I want my own fiction to have the same directness, musicality, and sheer vibration that somehow holds her work together without shattering it to pieces… I often return to (McCullers’) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” she said. “It has a way of tutoring me, of keeping me honest when I need to write about stark characters who are nevertheless fully, achingly human.”

Dressler’s work has been translated into several foreign languages including French, Dutch and Turkish. Her numerous awards and prizes include a Fulbright fellowship, the Women’s Press Great Books by Women’s Writers Series Award and several writing residencies, including those from the Hedgebrook Foundation and the Syvenna Foundation.

In 2002, she earned the prestigious Paisano Fellowship in Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, where she has also served as a visiting writer. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, she was featured with Larry McMurtry, Molly Ivins and others in Conversations with Texas Writers (2005), and she has taught literature and writing at the University of Texas, the University of St. Thomas and Rice University, where she earned a doctorate in English. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of San Francisco.

Named for McCullers’ parents, the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers provides a stipend to cover living expenses in a spacious private apartment at the Smith-McCullers House Museum. Recipients also are required to offer a presentation of their work near the end of the residency.

CSU's McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians operates the Smith-McCullers house to preserve the legacy of McCullers, who died in 1967 after writing five novels, 20 short stories and more than two dozen articles and essays. The center’s mission includes nurturing American writers and musicians; educating young people and fostering the literary and musical life of Columbus, Georgia and the South.

In addition to the writing fellowship, the center offers two composer residencies for musicians, presents extensive educational and cultural programs for the community and maintains an expanding archives related to the life and work of McCullers.

For more information, go to or call 706 327-1911.