One might say that the Lyre’s Boluwatife Prize has an interesting name. In fact, the name has nothing to do with literature. The competition, created last year, was a named after a beloved advisee of Upper School English and Creative Writing Teacher and Lyre Faculty Sponsor Christopher Shipman.
The Boluwatife Prize is a school-sponsored literature competition in which students are encouraged to write and submit literary pieces they have composed, such as short stories and poetry. This year, one winner from each division (lower, middle, and upper school) will receive a monetary prize of 100 dollars. The change from 50 to 100 dollars from the past year is meant to encourage students to submit.
The winner of each division is selected by a combination of club members and judges. The club members each take home a certain number of submissions to read and grade. They rate the submissions on a scale of one to three, one being the highest and three being the lowest. After the initial reading process, the club members gather together to read remaining submissions of that were given a score of one or two. Last year, the judges, Shipman, Upper School English Teacher and English Department Chair Megan King, and Middle School English Teacher Jordan Soyka, then decided a final winner for lower school, middle school, and high school, respectively.
Last year, Senior Jules France won the upper school prize for prose with his dystopian short story, “2018.” France said he was surprised he won the prize with that story and originally thought he won with a different piece he had written. He was in the Creative Writing class taught by Shipman, so his piece was automatically submitted, according to France.
“I was just sort of surprised that a story like that could do well,” France said. “When I was on my way home with my mom, and she said, ‘You know, I read that story that you won the prize for, and it made me cry.’ I said, ‘Really, I didn’t think it was all that good. Are you sure you got the right story?’”
Junior Charley Leopold, who won the upper school prize for poetry last year, was also surprised her poem about nature won.
“I had never really done anything like that before, and I was kind of nervous to turn it in,” Leopold said.
This year, submissions for this year’s prize will be open until Feb. 9, and the winner will be announced on Feb. 19.
Overall, the Boluwatife Prize encourages students of all ages to explore the creative talent they might not even know they have.