CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Austin Gage of Moundsville, a Wheeling Park High School senior, was among the top nine finalists in the 2014 National Poetry Out Loud recitation contest held Wednesday, April 30, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Gage, who represented West Virginia after winning the state competition in March, recited three poems for both events. They were “I Find No Peace” by Thomas Wyatt, “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen, and “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by E.E. Cummings.

Gage is performing the role of the Beast this week in his high school’s presentation of “Beauty and the Beast.” In addition to performing in the school’s plays and musicals, he is a member of the school’s speech and debate team and sings in the Young Patriots choir.

Gage was one of 53 students representing every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the two-day national championship. Tennessee’s Anita Norman won the national title. 

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, which is the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. The program is designed to encourage high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. In West Virginia, the state competition is hosted by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

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