Bennington College has a unique literary legacy, including seven Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, the youngest Man Booker Prize winner, a MacArthur “Genius,” countless New York Times bestsellers, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. In celebration of this legacy, Bennington launched the Young Writers Awards to promote excellence in writing at the high school level.
Each year, students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades are invited to enter in one of the following categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), or nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). All entries must be original work and sponsored by a high school teacher. Short stories and nonfiction must be fewer than 1,500 words. Judges include Bennington College faculty and students. First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250. The annual competition runs from September 1 to November 1 with winning entries posted after April 15.
Submission deadline: November 1. You may submit online or by mail (mailed entries must be postmarked by November 1 and accompanied by a submission form). We welcome entries from international students—in order to submit online if your high school isn't in our database, please enter N/A in place of the CEEB code for your high school.
For more information about the Young Writers and other programs at Bennington College, please contact us by email or phone at 800-833-6845.
Our goal with this competition is to recognize outstanding writing achievement by high school students. Last year, more than 2,000 students submitted poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to the Young Writers Awards competition. We congratulate all entrants on their extraordinary submissions, and are pleased to share past winning entries.
- First Place, Christina Im, Sunset High School, Portland, OR
- Second Place, Steven Chung, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, CA
- First Place, Catherine Wang, Chinese International School, Hong Kong
- Second Place, Jacqueline He, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
- First Place, Letitia Chan, Milton Academy, Milton, MA
- Second Place, Helli Fang, Walnut Hill School, Natick, MA
- First Place, Walker Caplan, The Lakeside School, Seattle, WA
- Second Place, Ella Zalon, Oakland School for the Arts, Oakland, CA
- First Place, Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Hunter College High School, New York, NY
- Second Place, Carissa Chen, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
- Second Place, Sophia Gyarmathy, Northside College Preparatory High School, Chicago, IL