CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Twenty-nine students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Billy Collins, Tracy K. Smith and many others during the 2015 state Poetry Out Loud competition set for March 6-7, 2015, at the Culture Center in Charleston.
The winner will represent West Virginia at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., on April 28-29.
Television and screen actor Chris Sarandon of Beckley will serve as master of ceremonies for the state competition again this year. Sarandon guest starred on such television series as Chicago Hope, The Good Wife, The Practice and Law and Order SVU. His movie performances include Dog Day Afternoon, The Princess Bride, Child’s Play, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Loggerheads. Sarandon is also featured on the spoken word album, Poetic License: 100 Poems/100 Performers. Hehas been the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud master of ceremonies since 2007.
West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman and folk-pop duo The Sea The Sea, featuring Charleston native Mira Stanley, will perform during the two-day event. The Sea The Sea also will hold a songwriting workshop for the students as part of a Friday evening reception at The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia. During that reception, students will visit with artist Mark Licari, whose work is currently on exhibit at the Clay Center. Licari’s murals, drawings, prints and sculptures have been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. His exhibit is presented by the Clay Center Collectors Club.
The semifinal competition begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 6. Saturday’s final competition begins at 1 p.m.
Harshman will serve as a judge, along with West Virginia author and singer/songwriter Colleen Anderson; Mark Davis, former Kanawha County teacher of the year and fine arts curriculum specialist for Kanawha County Schools; Dr. Christi Camper Moore, arts coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education; West Virginia writer, translator, lyricist, and photographer Randi Ward; and Trent Danowski, a coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education and a former classroom teacher and Poetry Out Loud mentor.
Poetry Out Loud 2014 state champion Austin Gage will return to this year’s event as a student mentor and guest speaker.
(A list of students competing in this year’s contest and the schools they represent is included below.)
The state champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals. The school receives $500 to purchase poetry books. The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books.
This year, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts commissioned Roane County blacksmith artist Lucas Warner to create the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud champion award and a companion award that will be displayed at the winning school. Students will also receive original works by West Virginia artists Matt Thomas, Charly Jupiter Hamilton, Eric Pardue, and Harshman.
Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. The program is designed to encourage high school-age students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.
For more information, contact Jim Wolfe, Arts in Education and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, at (304) 558-0240 or email him at James.D.Wolfe@wv.gov.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
POETRY OUT LOUD SEMIFINAL PARTICIPANTS FOR 2015
Carol Desper – Braxton County High School
Tori Richards – Bridgeport High School
Alexa Gerrard – Brooke High School
Tyler McComas – Cabell Midland High School
Emily Harrell – Capital High School
Robert Fields – Chapmanville Regional High School
Taylor Miller – East Fairmont High School
Tara Teets – East Hardy High School
Neely Seams – Greenbrier East High School
Karissa Cox – Greenbrier West High School
Sarah Hofmann – Hurricane High School
Josee Robertson – John Marshall High School
Penelope Petre – Lewis County High School
Kendal DeMarco – Lincoln High School
Richard Ojeda III – Logan High School
Gabrielle Marshall – Lyceum Preparatory Academy
Zane Bowles – Meadow Bridge High School
Sabrina Dahlia – Morgantown High School
Kaylee Burdette – Nitro High School
Mary Grace Rich – Pocahontas County High School
Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School
Brooke King – Ripley High School
Maria Shibley – Spring Mills High School
Tyler Ray – Webster County High School
Margaret Budik – Weir High School
Corey Proctor – West Virginia School for the Blind
Abbey Delk – Wheeling Park High School
Breellen Fleming – Wirt County High School
Emily Fedders – Woodrow Wilson High School