WMU alumna named a Hodder Fellow by Princeton arts center

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Melinda .


KALAMAZOO--The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University has announced the selection of Western Michigan University alumna and award-winning author Melinda Moustakis as a Mary MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellow.

Moustakis is one of four writers named a Hodder Fellow for the 2012-13 academic year. The award was created to provide artists in the early stages of their career time to undertake significant new work.

"The Hodder Fellowships are awarded to artists during that crucial period when they have demonstrated exceptional promise, but not yet received widespread recognition," notes Lewis Center Acting Chair Michael Cadden in making the announcement. "We have a very strong and diverse group of artists joining us next year, and we look forward to what this opportunity for what Mrs. Hodder termed 'studious leisure' will enable them to accomplish."

Hodder Fellows may be poets, playwrights, novelists, creative non-fiction writers, translators, or other artists and humanists who have shown great promise. While many have published a first book or created other work that has contributed to their field of endeavor, the fellowship provides them time to move their work and explorations to the next level. Artists from anywhere may apply in the fall each year for the following academic year. Their proposals include specific work to be undertaken during the fellowship period.

Moustakis plans to work on her first novel during her fellowship, a full-length book that captures the Alaskan fishing community and its many complicated relationships between fishermen, fisherwomen, guides, locals, tourist, scientists and the wilderness and wildlife.

"I hope, more than anything, to learn and grow as a writer and an artist," Moustakis says, "and to take full advantage of this opportunity to write a novel."

After earning a master's degree from the University of California Davis, Moustakis received her doctoral degree from WMU, working closely with Dr. Jaimy Gordon, WMU professor of English. The result of her doctoral dissertation was her first book, "Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories," a collection of linked short stories that illuminates the bare-knuckled lives of three generations of homesteaders pitted against the Alaskan wilderness.

The book earned the budding author a coveted Flannery O'Connor Award in Short Fiction and the Maurice Prize. She also was recently named a 2011 "5 Under 35" writer by the National Book Foundation. The Hodder Fellow designation adds to her growing list of accomplishments.

"I am very excited and honored to be a Hodder Fellow next year," Moustakis says. "What a dream--to be given time and resources to devote myself to writing the next book, to be part of an arts center that houses creative writing, dance, visual art and other media, where writers such as Chang-rae Lee, Joyce Carol Oates and Jeffrey Eugenides are members of the creative writing faculty."