photo by Lilian Kravitz
The winners of the Dobie Paisano writing fellowships for 2005-2006 are David Wright, an Associate Professor in the MFA program at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and Timothy Westmoreland, also a teacher of creative writing, who is currently at the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale. Both plan to write novels at Paisano although they also write short stories and works of non-fiction.
The fellowships, sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters, allow writers to spend six months at Paisano, the late author J. Frank Dobie's 254-acre retreat west of Austin, now owned and maintained by The University of Texas at Austin.
Wright, who will hold the Ralph Johnston Memorial Fellowship, will begin residence at Paisano in September. Westmoreland will hold the Jesse Jones Writing Fellowship and begin residency at Paisano in March 2006.
David Wright, who grew up in Borger, Texas, holds a B.A. from Carleton College, and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Before he started teaching creative writing, he was a player/coach on various American football teams in Paris and London. His first book, Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, in 2001 was described by the Washington Post as "adding significantly to our understanding of the many essential ways in which African Americans have served their country." At Paisano, he plans to complete a novel, the genesis of which is a short story, "And in the Ruined Houses," published in Shenandoah, 2004. Set in Paris after the Second World War, the novel will explore the meaning of race in a story of people pushed together by the forces of a shrinking world.
Timothy Westmoreland, a native Texan, received his B.A. degree from UT Arlington and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Westmoreland has been an Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but has also taught creative writing at Amherst College and Hampshire College. His first book, Good As Any (Harcourt Brace, 2002) is a collection of short stories that was widely reviewed and recommended as the work of a promising young writer. He was featured in Book Magazine's article "Writers You Need to Know." Amazon.com selected Good as Any for top-five list of 2002 Best Books of Fiction by New Authors. Westmoreland was also a guest on NPR's international program Studio 360 and has also appeared on Voice of America radio. Westmoreland has already begun Gathering, a novel set "in spare and punishing Texas landscapes." The novel will explore the effects of serious illness - in this case diabetes - on its young character's life.
The runners-up for the fellowships are Steve Moore, a Playwriting Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin and author of Nightswim, a recently produced play about J. Frank Dobie, Walter P. Webb, and Roy Bedichek; and Jeffrey Greene, who writes both poetry and non-fiction. Greene, who received his Ph. D. from the University of Houston, resides in Paris.