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51 students to compete in West Virginia Poetry Out Loud state finals

February 20, 2019

CHARLESTON — Fifty-one students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Sara Teasdale, Henry Wadsworth Long fellow, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Kevin Young and many others during the 2019 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for March 1-2 at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The winner will represent West Virginia at the 2019 national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., on April 30-May 1.

Storyteller, author and recording artist Bil Lepp, a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest and winner of the 2018 Vandalia Award, will serve as master of ceremonies for the state competition.

The semifinal competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 1, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s

final competition begins at 1 p.m. Mira and Chuck Costa, of the folk-pop band The Sea The Sea, violinist Alasha Al-Qudwah, 2018 Poetry Out Loud champion Jordyn Marshall, and West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman will perform during the finals on Saturday. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Harshman will serve as a judge for the competition, along with West Virginia author and songwriter Colleen Anderson; Joel Peckham, a poet and professor of English at Marshall University; Charleston-based author Rajia Hassib; and Elizabeth Savage, poet and professor of English at Fairmont State University.

The state champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals. The school receives $500 to purchase poetry books and materials. The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books and materials.

Participating students receive original works created by West Virginia artists. The winner and runner-up also will receive custom handmade trophies.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. The program is designed to encourage high school-age students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

For more information, contact Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator, at 304-558-0240 or email him at james.d.wolfe@wv.gov.