Poetry Out Loud is a contest in which high school students memorize and recite poetry for an audience. While meeting several content standards and objectives in reading, English and language arts, it helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. 

The competition begins at the school level with winners advancing to the March 14-15 state competition at the Culture Center in Charleston. Winners from each state and U.S. territory compete at the national finals April 28-30 in Washington, D.C.

The state champion receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to the national competition. The state champion’s school also receives $500 to purchase poetry books. The runner-up receives $100 plus $200 for his or her school to buy poetry books. The national winner receives $20,000 and a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends.

For more information or to register with the division’s Poetry Out Loud coordinator, Tabitha Walter, call (304) 558-0240 or email her at The last day to host a school contest is Jan. 15.

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. Led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, the division 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 is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


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