Winners of 2023 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards announced
The winners of the 2023 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards have been announced: poet Kayla Cooper and fiction writer Jenea Havener.
The annual award, co-sponsored by The Raven Book Store and the Lawrence Arts Center, honors the work of Hughes, who spent his childhood in Lawrence. The award is given to two Douglas County residents each year to support them to continue in Hughes’ tradition of portraying life experience through poetry and prose.
photo by: Courtesy of Kayla Cook
Cook, a freelance photographer and part-time librarian at the Lawrence Public Library, was born in Texas and raised in Kansas. In 2020, an excerpt from her senior thesis project at the University of Kansas — a poetry collection called “Black Country” — was awarded the Spencer Museum of Art Jack and Lavon Brosseau Creativity Award for Writing. In 2019, KU’s English Department awarded her poetry submission first place in the William Herbert Carruth Memorial Award.
photo by: Courtesy of Jenea Havener
Havener is a Lawrence native with a creative writing and history degree from KU. Her award-winning piece appeared as a story of the week in Narrative Magazine last June, and she was named a finalist in the magazine’s spring 2022 story contest for another story. She also received a fellowship to the Writing By Writers 2022 Tomales Bay Workshop and has been admitted to the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program, which she began this month.
The pair will be celebrated during a ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. The awards ceremony is held on Feb. 1 each year to commemorate Hughes’ birthday.