West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

43 Students to Compete in West Virginia Poetry Out Loud State Finals Competition on March 9-10, 2018


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Forty-three students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Margaret Atwood, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Tarfia Faizullah, Charleston native Rita Mae Reese and many others during the 2018 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for March 9-10, 2018, at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The winner will represent West Virginia at the 2018 national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., on April 24-25.

  Storyteller, author and recording artist Bil Lepp will serve as master of ceremonies for the state competition. Lepp is a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest, and his works have received awards and recognition from the Parents’ Choice Foundation, the National Parenting Publications Association and the Public Library Association. In 2011, he was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp is the author of six books and 16 audio collections.

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

Harshman and Van Gundy will serve as judges, along with West Virginia author and songwriter Colleen Anderson; Cathey Crowell Sawyer, producing artistic director of Greenbrier Valley Theatre; Carol Taylor Johnson, professor of English at West Virginia State University; and Barter Theatre educator Megan Atkinson Hamilton.  

The state champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals. The school receives $500 to purchase poetry books and materials. The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books and materials.

  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 created by Emily Sokolosky of Base Camp Printing Company in Charleston, West Virginia poet Randi Ward, and 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 james.d.wolfe@wv.gov.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, 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


Lydia Jenkinson – Berkeley Springs High School
Abigail Henry – Cabell Midland High School
Jordyn Marshall – Capital High School
Faith Wineman – Doddridge County High School
Dalton Miller – East Hardy High School
Daniel Dyal – Fayetteville High School
Sarah Marzouk – George Washington High School
Jamie Dotson – Grafton High School
Brett Napier – Greenbrier East High School
Elise Merchant – Huntington High School
Tate Dixon – Hurricane High School
Hayden Barnette – Lewis County High School
Matthew Stover – Liberty High School
Ugo Onwuka – The Linsly School
Katarina Curry – Logan High School
Jacob Pennell – Magnolia High School
Emily Cales – Meadow Bridge High School
Brooke Ashley Gardner – Midland Trail High School
Nick Chaffins – Morgantown High School
Hope Adkins – Nicholas County High School
Makayla Tyree – Nitro High School
Ben Long – Notre Dame High School
Brooke Brothers – Oak Glen High School
Tate Mauzy – Oak Hill High School
Delainey Lantz – Paden City High School
Emma Smith – Parkersburg High School
Billy Bowers – Paw Paw Schools
Olivia Zinn – Philip Barbour High School
Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School
Renee Varnell – Ripley High School
Willow Campbell – Roane County High School
Amethyst Alexander – Shady Spring High School
Kayden Upton – South Charleston High School
Allee Proctor – Spring Mills High School
Katelyn Stillwagoner – Tyler Consolidated High School
Kristin Wolfe – Union Educational Complex
Carrie Yarber – Webster County High School
Shalynn Whear – Weir High School
Chloe Hatfield – Westside High School
Abbey Delk – Wheeling Park High School
Alexis Petrovsky – Wirt County High School
Stephanie Hopkins – Woodrow Wilson High School
Kalli Stewart – Wyoming East High School



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