Prizes for Seniors

ESSAYS. Prizes for individual essays and for general excellence in the major are awarded; the Ralph Paine Memorial, the Lloyd Mifflin, and the John Hubbard Curtis are the prizes given for essays. In addition, seniors may compete for the Schoenberg prize, “for the best essay on some American poet or some phase of American poetry,” and for the Strong prize, “for the best essay on a phase of American literature or the best story on an incident in the lives of American people.” (If you have a short story on an American theme, please submit it to B-2 for fiction prizes.)

POETRY. Students may compete for the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize, and the Gordon Barber Memorial Prize. Poems submitted must be unpublished or they may have been published in a university magazine. Poems written in imitation of the style of canonical poets will be considered. A student who has won a prize for poetry may not, in a later year, submit the same poems for our poetry competition. A student who has previously competed but who has not won a prize should limit resubmission to one of the poems from the earlier packet; the rest should be new.

FICTION. Seniors may submit one work of fiction. Entries should be of reasonable length—in most cases a single short story, although the committee will consider a unified cycle of short stories or even a novel or a play. Students in the Writing Concentration who have written a novel should consider submitting one chapter and accompanying it with a brief explanation of how the selection fits in the larger context. If you choose to submit a whole novel or cycle of stories, the Prizes Committee needs to be able to compare submissions of similar sizes. You must therefore attach a note specifying which story of the cycle or which 20-or-so page piece of the novel you choose for such consideration.

NONFICTION. Seniors may submit a single general nonfiction piece (i.e., descriptive, imaginative, or journalistic article) of 2500 to 5000 words to C-1 below. A piece of nonfiction longer than 5000 words should be submitted to C-3.

Seniors may also compete for the John Hersey Prize “for a body of journalistic work” reflecting the spirit and ideals of John Hersey: engagement with moral and social issues, responsible reportage, and craftsmanship. Submit three to six articles, at least the majority of which have been published. Students entering this competition should state which pieces have been published and where.

Students who have written op-ed pieces for the Yale Daily News or reviews or feature stories, published or unpublished, sometimes ask whether they should compete for the Hersey or single out their best piece for the Wright. If you submit a packet of journalism for the Hersey competition, you may also submit a single piece for the Wright; that piece may be, but does not need to be, something submitted for the Hersey. Since a student cannot win both these prizes the same year, underclassmen may wish to submit only for the Wright and to wait till they have accumulated more of a body of work to compete for the Hersey.

Entries for the John Hersey Prize should be submitted to C-2 below.

Submission Deadlines

Thursday, April 18, 2024 at NOON, except
Friday, April 26, 2024 at NOON for submissions to Category H-1 and H-2 and ENGL 489 submissions to Category C3.

We regret that we cannot accept late submissions.

Length and Number of Submissions

Upload a single pdf document for each category to which you are applying. Please submit four to six pages for poetry; poems may be of any length and number. There is no page limit for fiction or essays. Please follow the nonfiction limits stated above. (Recommended: 12 pt font, double-spaced.) One submission is allowed per category unless you have received a faculty nomination.

Pseudonym and Title Page

Your name must not appear on the entry. Instead, choose a unique pseudonym containing more than one word to avoid possible duplication, and put the letters ps (for “pseudonym”) in parentheses after it. A new pseudonym should be chosen from year to year.

On the title page of your entry, provide your pseudonym (followed by ps), Yale class or graduate status, title of the piece, and the course for which it was written, if it was written for a course. In the upper-left corner of the title page, write the appropriate category (A through H, as below), not the names of prizes. Please take responsibility yourself for entering your work in the appropriate category. For example:

Eli Whitney (ps)
BK ’11
“A Reading of To the Lighthouse”
English 411

Submitting Your Entry

There are two steps to complete your submission: Use the appropriate links below to 1) complete the online prize submittal form and 2) upload your submission via email attachment.


(A-2) Poetry by Students Beyond the First Year:
A-2 Application Form
A-2 Upload Submission
Note: for Category A-2 submissions only, please do not provide your status or college year on the title page.


(B-2) Fiction by Students Beyond the First Year:
B-2 Application Form
B-2 Upload Submission


(C-1) All undergraduates: one piece of nonfiction, 2500-5000 words
C-1 Application Form
C-1 Upload Submission

(C-2) Juniors and Seniors: a body of journalistic work, 3-6 articles, mostly published
C-2 Application Form
C-2 Upload Submission

(C-3) All undergraduates: one piece of nonfiction, longer than 5000 words
C-3 Application Form
C-3 Upload Submission


The Marina Keegan Award for Excellence in Playwriting

This award honors the memory of Marina Keegan ’12, a gifted playwright. Graduating seniors in English and Theater Studies, as well as seniors in other departments who have studied playwriting at Yale, are invited to submit a portfolio of dramatic writing for consideration – two plays, at least one of them full-length.  

On the title page, include your name, your residential college, your Yale class (you must be a senior), your email address, and your phone number. Save your document with a filename that includes your last name. Upload your submission via email attachment using this link or email it to The award is jointly sponsored by the English and Theater Studies departments.


Essays on American literature or American themes written by Seniors, less than 16 pages
G Application Form
G Upload Submission

(H1) Essays by Seniors, fewer than 18 pages (not on American literature or theme)
H1 Application Form
H1 Upload Submission

(H2) Longer essays by Seniors
H2 Application Form
H2 Submittal Form
Note: Pieces of 16 or more pages should be submitted under H-2, even if they are on American literature.
Essays written for ENGL 490 and 491 are automatically considered for prizes; submission is not required.