Annual Elizabeth Bishop Prizes

Click for Winners of the 2015 Bishop Prizes!

The Creative Writing program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts celebrates the freshest, most accomplished examples of imaginative literary craft by young writers. As part of this mission, the editors of The Blue Pencil Online present each year the Elizabeth Bishop Prizes for Poetry, Fiction, and/or Dramatic Writing, offering awards of up to $500.

First, A Little History …

While a student at Walnut Hill from 1927 to 1930, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Elizabeth Bishop contributed poems, short fiction, plays, and book reviews to The Blue Pencil, and she served as editor of the magazine during her senior year. In recognition of Bishop’s contributions to the school and to literary history, the Creative Writing program has since 2004 invited young writers around the world to submit work to the Elizabeth Bishop Prizes. Thousands of pieces have been considered since the inception of the Prizes—some composed as near as Natick, others as far away as Abu Dhabi. The students in Creative Writing, who edit The Blue Pencil Online and who constitute the panel of judges for the competition, select winners each year. (Click here for a list of past Bishop Prize winners.)

About The Prizes

The Prizes come with a $500 award. Each winner also receives a copy of Elizabeth Bishop’s Poems, Prose, and Letters, published by The Library of America, a steadfast supporter of the Prizes. Prize-winning works are featured in the next issue of The Blue Pencil Online. Winners will be announced on The Blue Pencil Online and on the Walnut Hill web site by mid-April.

How The Prizes Work

The editors consider for The Bishop Prizes every work of original poetry, fiction, or dramatic writing (playwriting/screenwriting) that has been submitted to the The Blue Pencil Online. The deadline for entries to each year’s Prizes is February 1 at 12:00 noon EST. The Prize submissions category closes in our submission manager at the deadline, and a moratorium is put on reading of other submissions for the magazine throughout the month of February to allow the Editors time for judging.Eligibility Details: Any piece of fiction or poetry that (1) has been written by a student who does not attend Walnut Hill School for the Arts and who is an 8th-, 9th-, 10th-, or 11th-grader (or the equivalent in overseas educational systems) in the fall of the current school year, and (2) has been properly submitted to The Blue Pencil Online—via the TBPO submission manager—before the February 1 deadline will be considered for the Prizes. A work does not have to have been published in the magazine to be considered, but winners will be accepted for publication. A writer may win in only one category. No past winners of The Bishop Prizes are eligible. Walnut Hill reserves the right not to award a Prize in any category. Please note that the editors always welcome (and frequently publish) submissions to the magazine from writers in 12th grade; however, these works cannot be considered for The Bishop Prizes. In addition to directing writers who are wishing to submit work to read the TBPO Writers’ Guidelines, the editors strongly encourage submitters to acquaint themselves with pieces that have been published in our archives.

Questions about the Prizes should be directed to The Editors at: