Poetry Out Loud State Finals to begin Friday at Culture Center in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Forty-six students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Frost, Chen Chen, Emily Dickinson and many others during the 2024 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, in Charleston. All participants are listed below.

Friday’s competition will be emceed by Maggie Holley, the education director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. For the final round of competition on Saturday, the master of ceremonies will be storyteller, author and recording artist Bil Lepp, whose humorous, family-friendly tall-tales and stories have earned the appreciation of readers and listeners of all ages. Though a five-time champion of the WV Liars Contest, Lepp’s stories often contain universal truths presented in clever and witty ways.

The semifinal competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s final competition begins at 1 p.m. In addition to the championship round of recitations, Saturday’s program will feature greetings from 2022 and 2023 WV Poetry Out Loud state champion Morgan Sprouse, musical performances from Aristotle Jones and Dr. Ray Singleton, and remarks from West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Harshman will serve as a judge for the competition, alongside West Virginia writers and poets Randi Ward, Joel Peckham, Rajia Hassib and Colleen Anderson. 

Competitors gather on stage at the Culture Center in Charleston during day two of the 2023 Poetry Out Loud State Competition. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

The state champion receives $200, and the school or organization represented by the champion receives $500 to purchase poetry books and materials. The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books and materials. The state champion will also represent West Virginia at the 2024 national Poetry Out Loud competition to be held in Washington, D.C. From April 30 through May 2.

Participating students and teachers receive original works created by West Virginia artists. The winner and runner-up will also receive trophies handcrafted by West Virginia artist Matt Thomas.

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 james.d.wolfe@wv.gov.


Berkeley Springs High School – Hunter Hook

Bridgeport High School – Jay Scott

Buckhannon-Upshur High School – Jordan James

Cabell Midland High School – Maxwell Harris

Capital High School – Isaiah Canterbury

Clay-Battelle High School – Whitley Hardin

East Hardy High School – Kaelynn Reigel

Fairmont Senior High School – Riley Moore

George Washington High School – Clay Dusenbury

Gilmer County High School – Alena Gray

Grafton High School – Alexa Swyck

Greenbrier East High School – Christian Montgomery

Hurricane High School – Sarah Peyton

Lewis County High School – Aylah Johnson

Lincoln High School (Harrison County) – Myah Riley

Logan High School – Emily Porter

Magnolia High School – Vanessa Cogar

Meadow Bridge High School – Erin Fox

Moorefield High School – Anna Bowen

Morgantown High School – John Spellman

Nicholas County High School – Emily Sparks

Nitro High School – Layken Gunnoe

Notre Dame High School – Audrey Kosydar

Oak Glen High School – Ella Dennis

Oak Hill High School – Jordyn Floyd

Parkersburg High School – Emma Withrow

Paw Paw High School – Kiel Gee

Philip Barbour High School – Tara Leigh Rice

PikeView High School – Kinsley McCormick

Pocahontas County High School – Sabina Leyzorek

Richwood High School – Kailyn Williams

Ripley High School – Jeremiah Franklin

Saint Albans High School – JozLind Lazare

Shady Spring High School – Nicholas Lilly

Sissonville High School – Bailey Dore

South Charleston High School – Meagan Marquez

Spring Mills High School – Julia Stedman

St. Marys High School – Willow Peyton

Tucker County High School – Zane Paul

Tyler Consolidated High School – Ralynn Heintzman

Weir High School – Sienna Finsley

Westside High School – Riley Lester

Wheeling Park High School – Ava Mick

Winfield High School – Braylie Smolder

Woodrow Wilson High School – Carson Misch

Wyoming East High School – Piper Cook


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