Every student experiences the feeling at least once, staring into the stucco walls of a way-too-brightly lit classroom. They count down the minutes until the clock strikes three P.M., yearning to escape the burden of learning for the day.
In 1888, the great poet William Wordsworth encapsulated the feeling of the school bell ringing in his classic “The Tables Turned”: “Enough of Science and of Art/Close up those barren leaves/Come forth and bring with you a heart/That watches and receives.” Wordsworth was one of the leaders of the Romantic poets, a group of radical thinkers who believed in non-traditional education.
His work inspired myriads of followers, including greats such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, to discuss the importance of a practical education in their poetry.
The Romantics believed that, though academics held importance, students had the right to study whatever subject interested them in a suitable learning environment. Today, academic opportunities across America echo these Romantic ideas, where students pursue their personal interests.
The Romantic period men and women inspired generations of poets to follow their hearts when pursuing education. Students still feel these effects when examining college opportunities revolving around poetry.
Here are a few poetry scholarships and contests you could look into when applying to college:
1. Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry
Named for the iconic Chilean surrealist who passed away in 1973, the Neruda Prize for Poetry is awarded by the Nimrod, a literary journal published by the University of Tulsa. The Nimrod offers this award, which goes towards the recipient’s tuition, while also offering the Porter Prize for Fiction.
Applicants must submit three to ten pages of poetry, which can take the form of several short poems or one long poem. Two winners receive poetry scholarships and a publication in the journal.
The first-place winner receives $2,000, with the runner-up receiving $1,000. However, the main point of the contest is to explore the inspirational qualities that writing poetry brings, even if you fail to win. As Neruda himself once said, “Poetry is an act of peace.”
2. Easterday Poetry Award
Just Poetry!!! is a national anthology for high school poets and high school teachers. Every 90 days, the magazine accepts submissions from any U.S. high schooler and publishes winners. They offer multiple scholarship awards, including a $500 award for students chosen as Poet of the Year, a $500 award for the best poem per publication (four winners a year), as well as a $100 editor’s choice award per publication (also four winners a year).
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a high schooler, and seniors have until June 30th to continue submitting their works. Students may only submit one 20-line poem per quarterly cycle.
3. Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Amount: $500 – $10,000
Deadline: January 2022 (deadline varies by region)
From personal grief and loss to works on climate change and even exploring political or social issues: these are all topics that can be submitted to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Entries are selected without knowledge of the students age, gender or ethnicity.
Winners of the poetry scholarship will have work that exemplifies originality, technical skill, and personal voice and vision.
To qualify, students just need to create an account, upload their best work and send in s small entry fee. No GPA minimum required.
4. National High School Poetry Contest
Deadline: June 30th of Contestants Senior Year
“The screen door slams/Mary’s dress waves/Like a vision/She dances across the porch/As the radio plays.” T.S. Elliott? Try Bruce Springsteen. The Live Poet’s Society of New Jersey sponsors this scholarship, which piques the interest of young people in poetry. The Boss, known for his poetic lyrics, would be proud.
Since 1998, this scholarship has awarded young poets from across the nation who submitted their writing samples to the Live Poet’s Society. Applying poets must submit a 20-line sample or less for consideration. Up to 12 winners receive an award per quarterly deadline.
5. Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships
Deadline: April 30, 2022 (Final Date TBD)
In the words of William Wordsworth, “Earth has not anything to show more fair”. The peak of poetry scholarship opportunities, the Poetry Fellowships award five students per year $25,800.
The scholarships, doled out by the independent literary community The Poetry Foundation, which publishes Poetry magazine, are open to any US citizen between the ages of 21-31, meaning most students will already be in college upon receiving the scholarship.
The application requires a 250-word introduction to the work followed by ten pages of poetry. The lucky winners receive the financial award and also a potential publication in Poetry magazine.