2023 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award Ceremony

About the Event

Please join us for an evening of readings in celebration of the winners of the 2023 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards at 7 p.m. on February 1, 2023, the anniversary of Hughes' birthday! The evening, which will honor 2023's awardees, poet Kayla Cook and fiction writer Jenea Havener, will also commemorate Langston Hughes' life and legacy in Lawrence, Kansas. We will start off in the large gallery of the Lawrence Arts Center to enjoy readings from Cook and Havener, followed by a reception in LAC's lobby.

About the Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards

Co-sponsored by the Raven Book Store and the Lawrence Arts Center, the award honors the work of Hughes who spent his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. Each year, the $500 award is given to two writers to encourage and support Douglas County, Kansas, residents who continue in Hughes’ tradition of portraying life experience through poetry and prose.

About the Awardees

Born in Texas and raised in Kansas, Kayla Cook describes herself as “a storyteller with heart living in the heart of America.” She works as a freelance photographer and as a part-time librarian at the Lawrence Public Library. She also works part-time at the Lawrence Arts Center. In 2020, an excerpt from her senior thesis project at the University of Kansas, a poetry collection entitled Black Country, was awarded the Spencer Museum of Art Jack and Lavon Brosseau Creativity Award for Writing. In 2019, The University of Kansas English Department awarded her poetry submission first place in the William Herbert Carruth Memorial Award. Learn more about Cook here at her website.




Jenea Havener is a native Lawrencian with a degree in English - Creative Writing and History from the University of Kansas. Her award-winning piece appeared as a Story of the Week in Narrative Magazine in June, and she was named a finalist in Narrative’s Spring 2022 Story Contest for another story, forthcoming as a Story of the Week before the end of the year. 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 in January of 2023. Learn more about Havener here at her website.







Event date: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Lawrence Arts Center
940 New Hampshire Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Event Category: