Bennington Young Writers Awards


The November 1st contest deadline has now closed.
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About the Contest

Bennington College has a unique literary legacy, including ten Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, four MacArthur Geniuses, countless New York Times bestsellers, and two 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. Our goal with this competition is to recognize outstanding writing achievement by high school students.

Each year, students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades are invited to enter in one of the following categories with the following submission:

  1. Poetry: A group of three poems

  2. Fiction: A short story (1,500 words or fewer) or one-act play (run no more than 30 minutes of playing time)

  3. Nonfiction: A personal or academic essay (1,500 words or fewer)

A first, second, and third place winner is selected in each category.

 Download a Young Writers Awards poster to print and hang in your classroom or school. 

Awards & Rules

First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250; third-place winners receive $125.

  • All entries must be original work and sponsored by a high school teacher.

  • Judges include Bennington College faculty and students.

The competition runs annually from September 3 to November 1. Winning entries will be posted in spring 2020.

Fiction Poetry Nonfiction

2018-2019 Winners



  • First Place: "Haymarket," Cynthia Lu, Belmont High School, Belmont, MA
  • Second Place: "Moon Fever," Kali Puhnaty, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA
  • Third Place: "Hardest Hue to Hold, " Lillian Robles, Homeschooled, Glendale, CA



    More About Literature Studies at Bennington

    Literature studies at Bennington are grounded in the idea that good writers are good readers. Each year, an exceptional group of Bennington undergraduates is chosen to participate in an MFA summer residency through the Undergraduate Writing Fellowship. At the graduate level, the MFA offered by the Bennington Writing Seminars is one of the best low-residency programs in the United States.

    Off the Page & Outside the Classroom
    Bennington College believes that a writer’s influence extends beyond the printed page. As the steward of the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, Bennington is committed to maintaining and growing Robert Frost’s literary legacy in Southern Vermont and beyond.

    Throughout the year, Bennington College welcomes prominent writers and alumni to campus for readings during its Literature Evenings, Poetry at Bennington, and Writers Reading series.

    Students at Bennington are invited to contribute to SILO, the student literary and arts magazine, and the student-run journalistic outlet The Bennington Free Press. Bennington Review, a national biannual literary journal based at the College, provides students an opportunity to help edit and produce a professional print literary magazine.

    Bennington College Literature students go on to become novelists, poets, journalists, biographers, and more. Explore notable alumni.

    Past Winners

    Each year, over 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.

    2017-2018 Winners




    • First Place: "PEEL," Kelley Liu, Troy High School, Troy, MI
    • Second Place: "Ruth," Sophie Paquette, Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, MI
    • Third Place: "Bingo," Katherine Chou, Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ


      2016–2017 Winners



      • First Place: "Souvenirs," Catherine Wang, Chinese International School, Hong Kong
      • Second Place: "House of God," Jacqueline He, The Harker School, San Jose, CA


      2015–2016 Winners




      • First Place: "Of Perfumes," Addie Glickstein, East High School, Denver, CO
      • Second Place: "Hair," Luisa Healey, Hunter College High School, New York, NY

      2014–2015 Winners 



      • Second Place: "Mansions," Sophia Gyarmathy, Northside College Preparatory High School, Chicago, IL