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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 [email protected].

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
“Beautiful Wreckage” by W.D. Ehrhart
“A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown” by Walt Whitman
“The Death of Allegory” by Billy Collins

Tori Richards – Bridgeport High School
“April Love” by Ernest Dowson
“Immortal Sails” by Alfred Noyes
“Echo” by Christina Rossetti

Alexa Gerrard – Brooke High School
“Friendship After Love” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“Since There is No Escape” by Sara Teasdale
“[I carry your heart with me(I carry it in)]” by E.E. Cummings

Tyler McComas – Cabell Midland High School
“In a Dark Time” by Theodore Roethke
“Sanctuary” by Jean Valentine
“Invictus” by William Ernest Henley            

Emily Harrell – Capital High School
“Let the Light Enter” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
“The Death of Allegory” by Billy Collins
“To Live with a Landscape” by Constance Urdang

Robert Fields – Chapmanville Regional High School
“Grief” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“Aria” by David Barber
“The American Soldier” by Philip Freneau

Taylor Miller – East Fairmont High School
“Ecology” by Jack Collom
“The Properly Scholarly Attitude” by Adelaide Crapsey       
“The Canonization” by John Donne

Tara Teets – East Hardy High School
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman
“The Applicant” by Sylvia Plath
“Author’s Prayer” by Ilya Kaminsky

Neely Seams – Greenbrier East High School
“Mi Historia” by David Dominguez
“Epitaph on the Tombstone of a Child, the Last of Seven that Died Before” by Aphra Behn
“Love Song” by Dorothy Parker

Karissa Cox – Greenbrier West High School
“Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath
“On Monsieur’s Departure” by Elizabeth I
“Inside Out” by Diane Wakoski

Sarah Hofmann – Hurricane High School
“The Cities Inside Us” by Alberto Ríos
“Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud
“To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman

Josee Robertson – John Marshall High School
“Mingus at the Showplace” by William Matthews
“The Time I’ve Lost in Wooing” by Thomas Moore
“The Way It Sometimes Is” by Henry Taylor

Penelope Petre – Lewis County High School
“Conversation” by Ai
“Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert
“The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kendal DeMarco – Lincoln High School
“Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy
“Fairy-tale Logic” by A.E. Stallings
“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – (314)” by Emily Dickinson

Richard Ojeda III – Logan High School
“The Cities Inside Us” by Alberto Ríos
“The New World” by Amiri Baraka
“Israfel” by Edgar Allan Poe

Gabrielle Marshall – Lyceum Preparatory Academy
“Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy
“The Day” by Geoffrey Brock
“Adam’s Curse” by William Butler Yeats

Zane Bowles – Meadow Bridge High School
“Miniver Cheevy” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“Luke Havergal” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe

Sabrina Dahlia – Morgantown High School
“Experience” by Edith Wharton
“The Universe as Primal Scream” by Tracy K. Smith
“War Widow” by Chris Abani

Kaylee Burdette – Nitro High School
“Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Mary Grace Rich – Pocahontas County High School
“Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb
“The Paradox” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
“The Lamb” by Linda Gregg

Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School
“Becoming a Redwood” by Dana Gioia
“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“Hedgehog” by Paul Muldoon

Brooke King – Ripley High School
“The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allan Poe
“Lazy” by David Yezzi
“Poem About People” by Robert Pinsky

Maria Shibley – Spring Mills High School
“Pity the Beautiful” by Dana Gioia
“The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth
“The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tyler Ray – Webster County High School
“Broken Promises” by David Kirby
“Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert
“Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Margaret Budik – Weir High School
“I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)” by Emily Dickinson
“Lunar Baedeker” by Mina Loy
“Ecology” by Jack Collom

Corey Proctor – West Virginia School for the Blind
“Across the Bay” by Donald Davie
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Abbey Delk – Wheeling Park High School
“To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman
“The Night Nurse” by Michael Earl Craig
“Insomnia” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Breellen Fleming – Wirt County High School
“Magnitudes” by Howard Nemerov
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
“Battle-Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe

Emily Fedders – Woodrow Wilson High School
“Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb
“Do Not!” by Stevie Smith
“Ode to the Hotel Near the Children’s Hospital” by Kevin Young

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