CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The 2018 West Virginia Poetry Out Loud (POL) state competition registration deadline is set for Dec. 1, 2017. All West Virginia public and private high schools and homeschool associations are encouraged to participate in the event, which is sponsored annually by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The statewide competition will be held at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston on March 9-10, 2018.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest and free program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. The competition begins on a school-wide level, with the winners at each school advancing to the statewide competition. The POL curriculum is designed to meet state and national standards in language arts and reading.

Marc Harshman, West Virginia poet laureate and a judge for the annual event, said, “Poetry needs to be heard.  Often the best way to understand the messages and rhythms of a poem is to memorize it and recite it. Poetry Out Loud brings that opportunity to young people and helps them more fully realize the life-changing potential poetry has for their lives.”

Program materials include an online poetry anthology, teacher’s guide, lesson plans, posters and audio-visual materials on the art of recitation. These materials can be found at where they can be downloaded, or the materials are available from the division.

In the 2016-2017 school year, 44 West Virginia high schools held Poetry Out Loud competitions.  One hundred twenty teachers worked with 4,585 students at the local level. Thirty-six finalists from the school competitions competed at the state event. Tyler Ray of Webster County High School was selected the 2017 state champion. Ray competed in the national event in Washington D.C.      To learn more about the program, receive the program materials and register for the state competition, visit or contact Jim Wolfe at or 304-558-0240.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is proud to be able to present its programs at no charge to the public, but without a solution to the state’s budget situation, this could be the last year that programs of this type could be offered. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. It 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 The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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