Winners of 2015 Langston Hughes writing awards announced

The winners of the 2015 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards — and a $500 prize — are poet Alyse Bensel and fiction writer Matthew O'Connell. Co-sponsored by the Raven Book Store and the Lawrence Arts Center, the awards honor two writers who continue Hughes' tradition of portraying life experience through poetry and prose.

A celebration and reading to honor the winners will be held 7 p.m. Feb. 1 in the theater of the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. A reception in the Arts Center gallery will follow.

Bensel, a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at Kansas University, is the author of two chapbooks: "Not of Their Own Making" and "Shift." Her poetry has most recently appeared in Mid-American Review, Heavy Feather Review, and Ruminate, among others.

O'Connell is a retired Coast Guard Officer who works as a writer and editor for various military websites. He is the editor of "The Retiree Newsletter," a quarterly publication that reaches about 70,000 retired Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Public Health Service members.

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