Skip Navigation


West Virginia's Poetry Out Loud Contest

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest in which high school students memorize and recite poetry for an audience. The competition begins on a school-wide level, with the winners at each school advancing to the statewide competition held at the Culture Center in Charleston March 13 - 14, 2020. The winners from each US state and territory then compete at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. each spring.

The Poetry Out Loud curriculum is designed to meet state and national standards in Language Arts and Reading. Participation helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. By studying, memorizing, and performing classic and contemporary poems, students become immersed in powerful expression and provocative ideas.

Champions from each school-wide contest are invited to compete at the West Virginia State Finals, held in the Norman L. Fagan State Theater at the Culture Center in Charleston. In addition to contestants from all over the state performing poetry, the event also features guest speakers and celebrated performers. Recent guests include storyteller and 2018 Vandalia Award winner Bil Lepp, poets Randi Ward and Doug Van Gundy, musicians Kaia Kater and Christian Lopez, and the state’s poet laureate Marc Harshman.

Awards for Winning Students and Schools

State Competition
State Champion
$200 and all-expenses paid trip (with adult chaperone) to the National Competition in Washington, D.C. State Champion's School: $500 for purchase of poetry books and materials.
The champion and his or her school also receive trophies created by a West Virginia artist.

State Runner-Up
$100; school receives $200 for purchase of poetry books and materials

National Competition
National Champion
$20,000 and a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends

Rules and Guidelines

Student Eligibility Poem Eligibility Classroom and School Contests Registration and Release Forms

Visit the Poetry Out Loud website for complete participation information.


October 2019 - January 2020

Introduce the program, teach related curriculum, hold classroom and school competitions

December 5, 2019

Last day to register school with Arts in Education Coordinator

January 17, 2020

Last day to hold school contest

January 24, 2020

Last day to register school champion and teacher with Arts in Education Coordinator

March 13 -14, 2020

State Finals held at the Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia

April 27 - 29, 2019

State Champion competes in National Finals in Washington, DC

2018 Poetry Out Loud WV Champion Jordyn Marshall

WV Poetry Out Loud 2017

2017 Poetry Out Loud WV Champion Tyler Ray

2016 Poetry Out Loud WV Champion Neely Seams

2014 Poetry Out Loud WV Champion Austin Gage

For advice on coordinating an event and questions about classroom, school, and state contests, contact:
James D. Wolfe, Poetry Out Loud Coordinator
The Culture Center, State Capitol Complex
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305
FAX: 304-558-2779


The above links will open in a new window. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is not responsible for maintaining the content at the links. Please let us know if a link is broken.

Brook Johnson
2006 State Champion
Brook Johnson

Liz McCormick
2007 State Champion
Liz McCormick

2008 photo gallery
2008 State Champion
Carolyn Rose Garcia
2009 photo gallery
2009 State Champion
Jasmine Lewis
2010 photo gallery
2010 State Champion
Jasmine Lewis
2011 champion Anthony Braxton
2011 State Champion
Anthony Braxton
2012 champion BRUCE MCCUSKEY
2012 State Champion
2012 champion BRUCE MCCUSKEY
2013 State Champion
2014 State Champion
Austin Gage
2015 State Champion
Neely Seams

2016 State Champion
Neely Seams

2017 State Champion
Tyler Ray
2018 State Champion
Jordyn Marshall

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018