Grand Opening of Allen University’s Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library

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Event: Grand Opening of Allen University’s Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library
Date: Saturday, January 31st
Location: Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library/ 1329 Pine Street, Columbia
Time: Event starts with a continental breakfast at 9:00 am followed by Master Seminars by Kwame Dawes and Nikky Finney. Poetry workshops will be happening throughout the day. The event concludes with a reception and poetry reading by Dawes and Finney and an OPEN MIC! Free and open to the public.

Allen University is hosting an exciting event for the Grand Opening of its Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library.  The Center, co-founded by Kwame Dawes and Charlene Spearen, will serve as a community and university resource for emerging poets throughout Columbia and the southeast region.  The library houses close to 1000 books in the form of collections of poetry, anthologies, and books about the craft of writing poetry.  

The poetry collections represent a variety of works from different ethnic communities, but a concentration of works by authors of color has been generated.  Some of the leading poets of the 20th and 21st century have donated works.  Nikki Geovani donated over 20 autographed works.  Amiri Baraka contributed pieces to the library before his death, as well as works by Terrance Hayes, Marie Howe, Gary Soto, Kevin Young, Li Young Li, Caribbean poets, Native American poets and many more to include, of course, works by Kwame Dawes and Nikky Finney.  

When asked about the importance of this library, Kwame Dawes states:

“In cultures where the written word has effectively charted and recorded the history of those cultures, books have been a necessary and wonderful resource, and libraries have been some of the most important institutions in such cultures.  I can think of no better way of providing a community with a sense of his history and culture than a library full of the rich poetry of that community.  This is why the Langston Hughes Library at Allen University is as an important addition to the enrichment of the life of the state of South Carolina as any of our institutions that celebrate the arts.  I can think of no other person who has the skill, the passion and the tenacity to make this center come alive than Dr. Charlene Spearen.  Allen University’s embrace of this initiative puts it, once again, at the forefront of civic leadership and visionary innovation in Columbia, South Carolina.”

The grand opening of the Langston Hughes Poetry Center scheduled for Saturday, January 31st in the Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library (1329 Pine Street, Columbia) is free and open to the public.  The day’s agenda will begin at 9:00 am with a continental breakfast.  The morning will include a Master Seminar at 9:30 am with world renowned poet Kwame Dawes, and an afternoon Master Seminar at 1:00 pm with National Book Award winner, Nikky Finney.  Throughout the day, there will be additional poetry workshops presented by Allen University's creative writing faculty.  The day's agenda will close with a reading by Kwame Dawes and Nikky Finney, which will include a reception and an open mic session.  The entire celebration is free and open to the public.  

Charlene Spearen states: “This library has come into being with the support of Allen University’s administration, its faculty, staff and students.  It has come into being because poets, by way of generously contributing their books, see the importance of the art of writing poetry.  The location of the library on the campus of Allen University, which is within the Historic Waverly Community, is also significant.  One can take any poetry collection off a shelf and immediately read poems that are a form of music, visual art, and dance that speaks to one’s sense of Self simultaneously in the context of individuality, community, faith and social justice.”  

Following the grand opening of the Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library, the center will be open to the public Tuesday thru Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and every third Saturday of the month from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  The center will be a place to hold poetry workshops, readings, and salon discussions on the art of writing poetry.  The library is a resource library, not a lending library.  Emerging poets, teachers, students, and lovers of the craft will be able explore works by their favorite poet(s) or to make new poetic acquaintances in a comfortable space.  They will have the opportunity to meet people who see the value and power of writing and reading poetry.  The library also has a hidden treasure, for upstairs is the center’s children’s library, with works by some of the country’s leading children authors.  Please join Allen University as it celebrates the grand opening of The Langston Hughes Poetry Center and Library. 

Allen University is a private, coeducational institution located in Columbia, South Carolina.  It is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate degrees.  To learn more about Allen University, please visit

For further information contact: Dr. Charlene Spearen at 803-376-5794 or