Interlochen Arts Academy announces the winner of the 2023 Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition

Lucy Lombardo, an eighth grader from Honeoye, New York, has been selected to receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy as a Creative Writing major.

Lucy Lombardo

Lucy Lombardo, an eighth grader currently attending Honeoye Middle/High School in Honeoye, New York, has been named the winner of Interlochen Arts Academy’s 2023 Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition.

As the winner of the prestigious competition, Lombardo will receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy as a Creative Writing major. Lombardo, 14, is only the second eighth grader to win the competition in its 22-year history.

“I’m thrilled to be going to Interlochen Arts Academy next year,” Lombardo said. “For me, writing is taking a deep dive into my brain and helps me make sense of a confusing world. I’m so thankful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to discover what awaits me at Interlochen.”

“We are honored to welcome Lucy to the Creative Writing Program at Interlochen and provide her with the support she needs to continue honing her skills and achieving her literary goals,” said Karyna McGlynn, Director of Interlochen’s Creative Writing division. “We believe that she is destined for great things and we cannot wait to see where her writing journey leads.”

More than 90 young writers in grades 8-11 entered the competition. Applicants were asked to submit writing samples in at least two genres, including fiction, poetry, personal essay or memoir, screenwriting, playwriting, or hybrid genre.

This year’s applicant pool was particularly outstanding. Rho Bloom-Wang of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Heather Qin of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, were selected as runners-up. Lombardo was chosen as the winner based on the overall strength of her portfolio.

“Lucy’s exceptional voice and creativity as a writer, evident in her short stories ‘The Boy Whose Name Was Death’ and ‘A Duck's Pride,’ immediately caught the attention of the Interlochen Creative Writing faculty,” McGlynn said. “At only 14 years old, Lucy's writing already showcases a keen understanding of syntax and voice, and a knack for craft elements such as character development and figurative language. Her ability to craft stories with such vivid imagery and unique perspectives demonstrates a clear affinity for experimental storytelling.”

If one were to think of a prideful bird, the duck would not be a part of the conversation.

The peacock might be a worthy candidate—dripping in flamboyant blues and overzealous greens, heinous yellows and the like. The swan, too, might succeed in the business of ego. A graceful creature at first sight, she soon turns into a vain little thing; her delicate head filled with prickly, jealous thoughts. Some might even turn to the bluejay, although they would be mistaken. There is nothing tucked in that bright blue feather brain but nastiness.

Lucy Lombardo, "A Duck's Pride"

First held in 2000, the Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition has enabled more than a dozen young writers of great promise to attend Interlochen Arts Academy. The competition is made possible by generous grants from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation.

Previous recipients of the Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition Scholarship have gone on to earn degrees from Cornell, Yale, and Princeton and have won prestigious writing accolades including the Norman Mailer Award for Fiction, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, and Juxtaprose’s Short Fiction Contest. Works by past Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition winners have appeared in noted literary publications including Driftwood Press, Black Warrior Review, Kudzu House Quarterly, Broadly, and Entropy, among others.

Established in 1975, Interlochen Arts Academy’s acclaimed creative writing program provides expert instruction for high school writers in a supportive, nurturing environment. The Academy’s dedicated faculty of published authors provide individualized mentorship in a variety of career development topics, including building portfolios, submitting to contests, applying to colleges, and honing performance skills. Academy students enjoy regular reading and publishing opportunities and routinely excel in the nation’s finest competitions for young writers, including the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the YoungArts competition. Twenty Interlochen Arts Academy creative writing students have been selected as Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Applications are still open for the 2023-24 school year, but space is limited. Learn more about Creative Writing at Interlochen Arts Academy and how to apply.