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The West Virginia “Monster Truck Poetry Pull” final competition to be held at the Cultural Center on May 2 2006

The first “Monster Truck Poetry Pull,” West Virginia’s final competition round in the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, will take place at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, May 2, in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. The West Virginia program is a pilot project for Kanawha County secondary school students co-sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts (WVCA). The final competition round is free and open to the public.

Students from Charleston Catholic, Riverside, St. Albans and Sissonville high schools and the Charleston Job Corps will compete for the first-place prize of $200 plus an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals on Tuesday, May 16. Additional awards include a $500 stipend to the winner’s school for the purchase of poetry books, $100 to the second-place winner, and $200 to that school’s library.

Judges for the West Virginia finals are performance professionals Kirk Judd, Bryant McAllister and Heidi Muller. Crystal Good of Charleston, host of the Spoken Word poetry series, will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the event. Judd of Morgantown is a poet and co-editor of Wild Sweet Notes I, an anthology of work by West Virginia poets. Muller of Charleston is a singer/songwriter, who performs original material. McAllister of Charleston is an actor who currently is portraying Tom Robinson in the Kanawha Players’ production of To Kill a Mockingbird, and has professional acting credits in Pittsburgh and New York City.

Poetry Out Loud is a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 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.

“The Poetry Foundation and the NEA have encouraged each state to tailor this competition to their own culture,” said Richard H. Ressmeyer, director of arts for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “The most popular event at the Charleston Civic Center year after year is the Monster Truck Pull, so we thought we would call the West Virginia event The Monster Truck Poetry Pull. We hope there will be many more in years to come,” he added.

John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation, says “The public recitation of great poetry is a way to honor the speaker, the poem, and the audience all at once.”

For more information about the Poetry Out Loud, National Recitation Contest, contact Ressmeyer at (304) 558-0240, ext. 721 or by e-mail at richard.ressmeyer@wvculture.org.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.