Skip Navigation


West Virginiaís 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 4 and 5, 2016. 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 West Virginia native and Oscar nominee Chris Sarandon, nationally acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni, musical duo The Sea The Sea, visual artist Mark Licari, 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 Championís School: $500 for purchase of poetry books.
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

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

Visit the Poetry Out Loud website for complete participation information.


September 2015 – January 2016

Familiarize students with poems and contest, teach related curriculum, and hold classroom contests

December 1, 2015

Last day to register school with Arts in Education Coordinator

January 15, 2016

Last day to hold school contest

January 20, 2016

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

March 4-5, 2016

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

May 2-4, 2016

State Champion competes in National Finals in Washington, DC

The 2014 WV Finalist for Poetry out Loud!

Teacher Registration
Media Release
Parent Release
School Registration Form
Finalist Registration Form
Runner-up Registration From

2015 Press Release

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 Division of 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 WV Finalist
Brook Johnson

Liz McCormick
2007 WV Finalist
Liz McCormick

2008 photo gallery
2008 WV Finalist
Carolyn Rose Garcia
2009 photo gallery
2009 WV Finalist
Jasmine Lewis
2010 photo gallery
2010 WV Finalist
Jasmine Lewis
2011 champion Anthony Braxton
2011 WV Finalist
Anthony Braxton
2012 champion BRUCE MCCUSKEY
2012 WV Finalist
2012 champion BRUCE MCCUSKEY
2013 WV Finalist

2014 WV Finalist
Austin Gage

2015 WV Finalist
Neely Seams

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015