Lawrence native awarded Langston Hughes short fiction writing award

photo by: Contributed photo

The Lawrence Arts Center and Raven Book Store announced Molly Weisgrau, a KU student and Lawrence native, as the winner of the Langston Hughes Writing Awards for short fiction.

What was originally written for a class assignment has turned out to be a winning fiction submission in Lawrence.

Molly Weisgrau, a senior studying English at the University of Kansas, told the Journal-World via email Monday that she was excited to see that a short story she wrote for a class at KU was selected as the winning fiction entry for the 2019 Langston Hughes Writing Awards.

“It’s really cool to think that my art could be valuable to others,” said Weisgrau, who grew up in Lawrence. “The fact that an opportunity like this one to celebrate local writers even exists is awesome and shows how much the community supports artists.”

The writing of Jameelah Jones was selected as the best poetry submission. Jones is a graduate teaching assistant at KU, according to the university’s website.

The awards, which are co-sponsored by the Lawrence Arts Center and the Raven Book Store, aim to honor the writing of Hughes, who spent his childhood in Lawrence, and encourage Douglas County residents to continue to write poetry and prose, according to a news release from the bookstore. The awards come with a $500 prize.

Weisgrau said her work breaks away from certain expectations.

“I like to write small-scale and simple stories that explore people without any intricate world-building or plot twists,” Weisgrau said. “I really like stories that reveal their endings right away.”

Jones’ poetry focuses on black liberation, imagination and queer futures, according to the news release. She did not respond to the Journal-World’s request for comment.

photo by: Mike Yoder

In this file photo from February 2015, Jameelah Jones is pictured at the University of Kansas.

Along with a reading of the winning entries, Weisgrau and Jones will be honored during a celebration at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. The celebration coincides with Hughes’ birthday. Coincidentally, Weisgrau’s birthday is also Feb. 1; she will turn 22 the day of the event.

A third award, the spoken word poetry contest, is also expected to be announced at the event. The inaugural award is accepting entries from Douglas County high school students until Jan. 25.


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