Three Lawrence writers have gained a little recognition in a city known for being a good place for a difficult profession.
Callista Buchen, Amy Ash and Iris Moulton are this year’s recipients of the Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award, sponsored by the Lawrence Arts Center and the Raven Book Store.
‘Westering Fever’ by Iris Moulton
This is the way they told you to leave, calmly
through the mountain pass speckled with pronghorn.
Like a glass trapping a spider, blue sky globes down
on all sides. They ask that you not be caught
by winter and salt-cure your lover to quell
your hunger. They ask that you not be buried
where you fall trailside; a wooden cross erodes
into just a stick too quickly. You could wait
for the train, but it will be awhile.
‘On Thin Ice’ by Amy Ash
No one wants to dive into icy water
to save someone. Let’s leave now
and read about their deaths in the morning.
What can I say, I’m sorry
you spent all afternoon at the airport,
your face pressed against glass,
just to see someone
surfacing. Next time
I’ll take the train. The rails, the grooves,
some sense of straightforwardness.
Set aside your steak and let’s talk.
The knife slices back and forth on the plate
like the blade of a skate.
“Being a writer is hard. This recognition is great because it suggests you’re heading on the right path,” said Buchen, a student in Kansas University’s creative writing doctoral program and winner of the award’s fiction category.
Moulton, a KU master’s student, and Ash, also in the doctoral program, shared the poetry prize. All three know and work with one another and had high praise for one another’s work.
Heidi Raak, the Raven’s owner, said this year was an especially competitive one, with more than 60 entrants.
Only Lawrence-based writers are eligible for the prize, which includes $500 for the writers, and Moulton said she was especially honored to have won in the last year of her program with a series of poems written about three years ago, when she moved here from Salt Lake City.
“It was written during my adjustment here, while I was grappling with Kansas,” she said.
All three praised the award as complementary to the town’s creative scene.
“It’s a great place to be a writer,” Ash said. “There’s an energy and spirit that’s supportive.”
A recognition ceremony for the winners will be 7:30 p.m. today — Hughes’ birthday — at the Arts Center, 940 N.H. The event is open to the public and will include readings and refreshments.