West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

38 Students to Compete in West Virginia Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition on March 4-5, 2016


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Thirty-eight students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, C.K. Williams, Charleston native Rita Mae Reese, and many others during the 2016 state Poetry Out Loud competition set for March 4-5, 2016, at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The winner will represent West Virginia at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., on May 2-4.

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, Safe and Loggerheads. Sarandon has been the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud master of ceremonies since 2007. 

The semi-final competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 4, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m.  Saturday’s final competition begins at 1 p.m. West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman and musician Kaia Kater will perform during the finals on Saturday. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Harshman will serve as a judge, along with West Virginia author and songwriter Colleen Anderson; Dr. Kent Shaw, professor of literature and creative writing at West Virginia State University; Megan Atkinson, founder and director of Barter Theatre’s Project REAL; Heather Hutchens, General Counsel for the West Virginia Department of Education; and Charleston author and poet Ace Boggess.

(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 Gilmer County artist Matt Thomas to create the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud champion trophy and a companion award that will be displayed at the winning school. Students will also receive original works by West Virginia artists Morgan Richards, Matt Thomas and G.W. Lanham.

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 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


Sydney Hosfeld – Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Upshur County
Rawan Elhamdani – Cabell Midland High School, Cabell County
Cheyenne Meeks – Cameron High School, Marshall County
Ben Bradley – Capital High School, Kanawha County
D.J. Conley – Chapmanville Regional High School, Logan County
Dalton Miller – East Hardy High School, Hardy County
Neely Seams – Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County
Shannon Brunzo-Hager – Greenbrier West High School, Greenbrier County
Zadokite Wood – Huntington High School, Cabell County
Njeri Segrest-Brooks – Hurricane High School, Putnam County
Josee Robertson – John Marshall High School, Marshall County
Kierston Carson – Lewis County High School, Lewis County
Halona Webb – Liberty High School, Raleigh County
Ja’keh Terry – Lincoln High School, Harrison County
Alexis Morgan – Logan High School, Logan County
Gabrielle Marshall – Lyceum Preparatory Academy, Ohio County
Ryan Horn – Magnolia High School, Wetzel County
Zane Bowles – Meadow Bridge High School, Fayette County
Sarah Beth Ealy – Morgantown High School, Monongalia County
Mason Yarber – Nicholas County High School, Nicholas County
Jacob Lesher – Nitro High School, Kanawha County
Bekah James – Notre Dame High School, Harrison County
Isaac Price – Paden City High School, Wetzel County
Brent West – Parkersburg High School, Wood County
Emily Boothe – Pocahontas County High School, Pocahontas County
Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School, Nicholas County
Brooke King – Ripley High School, Jackson County
Sarina Branson – Riverside High School, Kanawha County
Shayla Stanley – Roane County High School, Roane County
Brittney Bragg – Shady Spring High School, Raleigh County
Kaitlyn Boyd – Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County
Jessica Kimble – Tyler Consolidated High School, Tyler County
Kristin Wolfe – Union Educational Complex, Grant County
Tyler Ray – Webster County High School, Webster County
Haley Brown – Weir High School, Hancock County
Abbey Delk – Wheeling Park High School, Ohio County
Brady Ohrn – Wirt County High School, Wirt County
Madison Walker – Woodrow Wilson High School, Raleigh County

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