CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Forty-two students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Kai Conradi, Martín Espada, Aphra Behn, Maya Angelou, Ha Jin, Kara Jackson, and many others during the 2022 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for March 11-12 at the Culture Center in Charleston. 

The winner will represent West Virginia at the 2022 national Poetry Out Loud competition to be held virtually in two rounds streamed Sunday, May 1 and Sunday, June 5. 

Friday’s competition will be emceed by Maggie Holley, the education director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. For the final round of competition on Saturday, the master of ceremonies will be storyteller, author and recording artist Bil Lepp, whose humorous, family friendly tall-tales and stories have earned the appreciation of readers and listeners of all ages. Though a five-time champion of the WV Liars Contest, Lepp’s stories often contain universal truths presented in clever and witty ways.

The semifinal competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 11, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s final competition begins at 1 p.m. Rhéa Ming, West Virginia’s 2020 Poetry Out Loud state champion, and Ben Long, the 2021 state champion, will perform during the finals on Saturday, along with violinist Alasha Al-Qudwah and West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman. All sessions are free and open to the public. 

Harshman will serve as a judge for the competition, along with West Virginia poets Randi Ward and Doug Van Gundy; 2016 Poetry Out Loud State Champion Neely Seams, and Kay Goodwin, former Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts 

The state champion receives $200, and the school or organization represented by the champion receives $500 to purchase poetry books and materials. The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books and materials. 

Participating students and teachers receive original works created by West Virginia artists. The winner and runner-up also will receive trophies handcrafted by West Virginia artist Matt Thomas.

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


Berkeley Springs High School – Emma Christie

Bridgeport High School – Morgan Sprouse

Buckhannon Upshur High School – Haley Butcher

Cabell Midland High – Alexandria Chapman

Capital High School – Ashley Miller

Clay Battelle High School – Ella Lybarger

East Hardy High School – Brianna Walker

Elkins High School – Rylee Gard

Fairmont Senior High – Ava McMullen

George Washington High School – Jessica Tenney

Gilmer County High School – McKinzie White

Greenbrier East High School – Hannah Buly

Huntington High School – Caroline Rollyson

Hurricane High School – Sarah Davis

John Marshall High School – Angestura Kash

Lewis County High School – Aylah Johnson

Lincoln High School – Wesley Benson

Logan High School – Brooke Ooten

Magnolia High School – Vanessa Cogar

Meadow Bridge High School – Michael Simmons

Morgantown High School – Isabella Ferrell

Mount Hope Christian Academy – Kafele Nelson

Nicholas County High School – Olivia Short

Notre Dame High School – Ashton Nardella

Oak Glen High School – Sofia Kefer

Paden City High School – Serenity Strother

Parkersburg High School – Lilly Alexander

Paw Paw High School – Dreden Heath

Philip Barbour High School – Tara L. Rice

Roane County High School – Carly Harper

Scott High School – Kimberlyn Kirk

Shady Spring High School – Makayla Schrader

South Charleston High School – Cheyenne Baker

Spring Mills High School – Bronte Stump

St. Albans High School – Rosemarie Tayagun

St. Marys High School – Willow Peyton

Valley High School-Wetzel – Bella Wyatt

Webster County High School – Logan Vandevender

Weir High School – Andrew Manteau

Wheeling Park High School – Ava Mick

Woodrow Wilson High School – Lani Misch

Wyoming East High School – Hannah Cable