CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The 2017 West Virginia Poetry Out Loud state competition registration deadline is set for December 1, 2016.  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 3-4, 2017.

Marc Harshman, West Virginia poet laureate and a judge for the annual event, said, “I believe poetry holds the power to challenge and persuade, comfort, inform and reveal the truth about who we really are. The poet’s manipulation of words through rhythm, image, and countless other figures is a high calling. Poetry Out Loud celebrates this calling while serving as a wonderful reminder that ours is a living language surely renewed by these young people as they declaim their poems with finesse and passion.”

Poetry Out Loud is a free program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition, according to Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator for the division.

“Standards-based curriculum materials are available at no cost for participating schools and associations, providing teachers with all of the information and materials they need to host local competitions in their schools,” said Wolfe. 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 2015-2016 school year, 38 West Virginia high schools held Poetry Out Loud competitions.  One hundred and four teachers worked with 4,375 students at the local level. Thirty-four finalists from the school competitions competed at the state event. Neely Seams of Greenbrier East High School was selected the 2016 state champion. Seams competed in the national event in Washington D.C. and was one of nine students to advance to the final round in the national competition.

To learn more about the program, receive the program materials and register for the state competition, visit or contact Wolfe at or 304-558-0240.

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 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 The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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