Poetry and fiction submissions sought for the 2020 Langston Hughes Awards | LJW

By Kathy Hanks on November 18, 2019

It’s time for Douglas County residents to finish the story they’re working on or polish up their poems and submit them for the 2020 Langston Hughes Awards.

The annual event, jointly sponsored this year by the Lawrence Arts Center and The Raven Book Store, will offer two awards of $500 each, one for fiction and one for poetry. The deadline to submit work is Dec. 20. Guidelines for submissions are available online at the Lawrence Arts Center.

For more than two decades the award has been given in memory of Hughes, an internationally acclaimed author who spent part of his childhood in Lawrence. Hughes wrote in multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, drama, memoir and travel narratives.

Over the years submissions have come from college students, faculty members and the general community, said Jacquelin Hedeman, a grant writer, writing teacher and one of this year’s five judges.

The limit for submissions is 5,000 words of prose and no more than 10 poems. Writers who have published a book-length volume of poetry or fiction are not eligible.

“It’s brief,” Hedeman said, of the word limit. “They have to get in there and wow us.”

While the judges have their own sense of what they are looking for in the submissions, Hedeman said, they will all be looking for the author’s attention to craft and language.

“What I am looking for is content I have never seen before. Something that is going to make me sit up a little straighter and catch my interest,” Hedeman said.

As a judge, Hedeman has read a lot of great submissions.

“This is a very talented community,” she said.

She encourages all writers to enter something, even those who have never submitted their writing before.

“If you have written poetry or fiction, we would love to read it,” Hedeman said.

The winners will read their work during a celebration at the Arts Center on Hughes’ birthday, Feb. 1, 2020.

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