The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts will host the West Virginia State Finals of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at 2 p.m., on Saturday, March 24, in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston, with the support of the West Virginia Library Commission and the West Virginia Department of Education. The state final competition round is free and open to the public.
Students from the Cabell County Library, Capital High, Charleston; Huntington High; Magnolia High, New Martinsville; Notre Dame High, Clarksburg; Point Pleasant High; Richwood High; Roane County High, Spencer; Sissonville High, Charleston, Spring Valley High, Huntington; Summers County High, Hinton; and Wahama High, Mason will compete for the first-place prize of $200 plus an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals on April 30 and May 1. Additional monetary 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. All of the students competing in the finals will receive a Poetry Out Loud t-shirt, tickets to the Charleston Ballet’s March 24 evening performance, and a book of poetry.
Judges for the West Virginia finals are educators and performance professionals Jamie Dunbar, Crystal Good, John McKernan and Doug Van Gundy. Dunbar of Charleston is a founding member of West Virginia’s premiere improvisational comedy troupe, No Pants Players, an actor who has performed with Kanawha Players, Charleston Stage Company and the Charleston Light Opera Guild, and a teacher of theater across the state. Good of Charleston is a poet and arts educator who regularly produces poetry events and reads for Healing through Creativity, an organization dedicated to using the arts to heal survivors of abuse. McKernan of Huntington is an English professor of 40 years at Marshall University He has written five poetry collections and his work has been recognized by grants from the Benedum Foundation, the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Van Gundy has been leading poetry workshops for more than 10 years. His poems have appeared in numerous regional magazines and several anthologies and his first book of poems, A Life Above Water is being published this spring.
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. 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 Gregg McAllister, arts in education coordinator for the Division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 145 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.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. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.