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Author-playwright-musician Howard Fishman named McCullers Center’s 2024 Smith Fellow - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

Author-playwright-musician Howard Fishman named McCullers Center’s 2024 Smith Fellow

May 24, 2024

Photo of Howard Fishman with the cover image of his book To Anyone Who Ever Asks

Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers & Musicians has named author, playwright and musician Howard Fishman the winner of its 19th annual Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. As this year’s writing fellow, he will live and work in Carson McCullers’s childhood home, the Smith-McCullers House, in Columbus this fall.

Fishman adds his accomplishments in theatre and music to the Smith Fellowship’s traditional writing focus. Dr. Nick Norwood, director of the McCullers Center, stated that Fishman’s diverse background in multiple creative genres will result in a unique fellowship experience.

“Howard has such an interesting career underway,” Norwood said. “His book on Connie Converse is really interesting and important—exploring as it does the life and work of the under-appreciated singer/songwriter whose story is both inspiring and mysterious.”

Fishman is an author, musician, composer, theatre-maker and cultural essayist based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, and his writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Telegraph, Vanity Fair, The Boston Globe, ArtForum, The Village Voice, and The San Francisco Chronicle. His writing credits include his book debut, "To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse," and his New York Times “Critics Pick” original play, "A Star Has Burnt My Eye."

His early days as a street musician in New Orleans influenced his passion for jazz, soul, country, blues and gospel music. For more than two decades, he has toured internationally and performed on bills with cellist Yo Yo Ma, saxophonist Maceo Parker, and singer-songwriter Andrew Bird—among other notables. He has released 11 albums to date and produced the album “Connie’s Piano Songs: The Art Songs of Elizabeth ‘Connie’ Converse.”


Named in honor of McCullers’ parents, the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers was inspired by the author’s experiences at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Vermont and, especially, the Yaddo Arts Colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. To honor the contribution of these residency fellowships to McCullers’s work, the center awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers’s childhood home (pictured), which is now home to the McCullers Center.

Awarded on a competitive basis, the fellowship affords writers-in-residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities as McCullers did when she returned to Columbus to write. Upon the conclusion of their three-month residency, fellows do an end-of-residency performance or presentation each November.

Last year’s Smith Fellow was music theory scholar Lauren Irschick, whose focus aligned with her doctoral research on how fictional techniques may be applied to music analysis through the study of novels by Carson McCullers, Willa Cather and Richard Powers, among others. 

Media contact:
Dr. Nick Norwood, Director, Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, 706.507.8302,