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Langston Hughes Festival

A Note From The Director

The Langston Hughes Festival announces its 36th annual award ceremony, scheduled for November 20, 2015. 

We are thrilled to award Jacqueline Woodson with the 2015 Langston Hughes medal. This follows the Festival's momentous celebration last year of Walter Mosley.

Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of more than 30 books for children and young adults, including From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), which was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won a Jane Addams Children's Book Award;Miracle's Boys (2000), which won the 2001 Coretta Scott King Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize;Hush (2002), a National Book Award finalist;Locomotion (2003), also a National Book Award finalist. Three of Woodson's books have been named Newbery Honor Books: Show Way (2005), Feathers (2007), and After Tupac &D Foster (2008). Her recent books include the young adult novel Beneath a Meth Moon (2012) and Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a novel in verse about Woodson's family and segregation in the South, which won a National Book Award and was named a Newbery Honor Book. In 2015 she was named Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Like Langston Hughes, Woodson is a prolific writer in many genres including fiction, poetry, plays and opera. Ms. Woodson also shares with Hughes a wide readership among young readers and is taught in schools all over the country. Several of her books such as Locomotion and Brown Girl Dreaming are written in verse and she frequently speaks of Hughes as a primary influence.In a National Public Radio interview with Terri Gross, Woodson said that when she read Hughes as a child "it was the first time a poet spoke to me and I understood them… And I feel like he kind of opened the floodgates for me to understanding that inside of poems were stories and messages and language that mattered."

As a Langston Hughes medalist, Woodson will join the company of James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, August Wilson, Octavia Butler, and Edwidge Danticat among many other literary luminaries of the African diaspora who have received this distinguished medal. 

A special feature of this year's Langston Hughes Festival will be a Young Readers' Q&A on Friday November 20th at 11:00 AM where devoted readers K-12 will meet this inspiring author whose stories both mirror their lives and inspire them to dream.The same day at 3:00 PM, fellow writers of books for young readers as well as scholars and educators on the subject will engage in a lively discussion of Woodson, her work and her influence. Our day-long celebration culminates in a 6:00 PM ceremony where we will award Ms. Woodson the Langston Hughes Medal.

We hope to see you in November!

Retha Powers, Director