Winners of 2016 Langston Hughes writing awards announced

Fiction writer Kate Russell and poet Tai Amri Spann-Wilson are the winners of this year’s Langston Hughes Award for writing, the Raven Book Store announced Wednesday.

Co-sponsored by the Raven and the Lawrence Arts Center, the annual award — and its $500 cash prize — is given to two writers who continue Hughes’ tradition of portraying life experience through poetry and prose.

A celebration and reading will be held in honor of the winners in the main auditorium of the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., at 7 p.m. Feb. 1, Hughes’ birthday. A reception will follow in the Arts Center gallery.

Russell, originally from Maine, is a PhD student in creative writing at Kansas University. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Quarterly West, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Barrelhouse and Redivider, among others.

Drawing from his Philadelphia and New Jersey lineage, Spann-Wilson’s work deconstructs race, class, gender and sexuality, and incorporates his various spiritual interests. He is a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.