CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bridgeport High School student Morgan Sprouse represented West Virginia in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, earning an honorable mention prize and finishing in the Top 12 in a national broadcast on May 1. Sprouse was one of 55 state and jurisdictional Poetry Out Loud champions participating in the annual competition. As the 4th place winner in one of three regional semifinals, Sprouse will receive a $1,000 cash award and a $500 stipend for her school.

Sprouse won the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud championship in March, with her recitations of “Mansplaining” by Jennifer Militello, “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin and “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Thirty-nine West Virginia high school students competed in the state finals at the Culture Center in Charleston. 

For this competition, each student memorizes and recites classic and contemporary poems selected from more than 1,100 in the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Judges review and score the recitations based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

The 2022 competition will culminate on Sunday, June 5, 2022, with a one-time-only webcast available on the National Endowment for the Arts’ website at Arts.gov/Poetry-Out-Loud beginning at 7 p.m. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place winners from each of the three regional semifinals (the top nine high school students from across the nation) will compete for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 prize.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and state arts agencies, including the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. This national arts education program encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country.

For more information about West Virginia’s Poetry Out Loud program, contact Jim Wolfe, Poetry Out Loud state coordinator, at (304) 558-0240 or [email protected].

PHOTOGRAPH: Morgan Sprouse, Bridgeport High School