B-U student to compete in W.Va. Poetry Out Loud state finals


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Fifty-one students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Sara Teasdale, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Kevin Young and many others during the 2019 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for March 1-2, 2019, at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The winner will represent West Virginia at the 2019 national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., on April 30 – May 1.

Katie Pearson of Buckhannon-Upshur High School will be among those students seeking the top prize.

Storyteller, author and recording artist Bil Lepp will serve as master of ceremonies for the state competition.

Lepp is a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest and winner of the 2018 Vandalia Award. His works have received recognition from the Parents’ Choice Foundation, the National Parenting Publications Association and the Public Library Association. In 2011, he was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp is the author of seven books and 16 audio collections.

The semifinal competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 1, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s final competition begins at 1 p.m.

Mira and Chuck Costa, of the folk-pop band The Sea The Sea, violinist Alasha Al-Qudwah, 2018 Poetry Out Loud champion Jordyn Marshall, and West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman will perform during the finals on Saturday.

All sessions are free and open to the public.

Harshman will serve as a judge for the competition, along with West Virginia author and songwriter Colleen Anderson; Joel Peckham, a poet and professor of English at Marshall University; Charleston-based author Rajia Hassib; and Elizabeth Savage, poet and professor of English at Fairmont State University.  

The state champion receives $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals. The school receives $500 to purchase poetry books and materials.

The runner-up receives $100, while the school receives $200 for poetry books and materials.

Participating students receive original works created by West Virginia artists. The winner and runner-up also will receive custom handmade trophies.

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 email him at james.d.wolfe@wv.gov.

A full list of the student competitors:

  • Kayley Brinegar – Berkeley Springs High School
  • Katie Pearson – Buckhannon-Upshur High School
  • Natalie Eastone – Cabell Midland High School
  • Shannon Knowlton – Cameron High School
  • Virginia Groce – Capital High School
  • Ty Spurlock – Doddridge County High School
  • Emily Yates – East Hardy High School
  • Maggie McAllister – Fayetteville High School
  • Ashlyn Bell – George Washington High School
  • Trevor Swiger – Grafton High School
  • Brett Napier – Greenbrier East High School
  • Tia Walkup – Greenbrier West High School
  • Sara Money – Hampshire High School
  • Victoria Bannon – Huntington High School
  • Melia Beckford – Hurricane High School
  • Brianna Watson – Lewis County High School
  • Justin Pettry – Liberty High School
  • Devesh Shah – The Linsly School
  • Brooke Ooten – Logan High School
  • Ryan Horn – Magnolia High School
  • Emily Cales – Meadow Bridge High School
  • Malerie Hendrick – Midland Trail High School
  • Julie Bowen – Moorefield High School
  • Indiah Bleher – Morgantown High School
  • Galilea Villaseńor – Nicholas County High School
  • Darcy Witt – Nitro High School
  • Ben Long – Notre Dame High School
  • Allyson Brothers – Oak Glen High School
  • Fiona Legg – Oak Hill High School
  • Serenity Strother – Paden City High School
  • Emma Smith – Parkersburg High School
  • Billy Bowers – Paw Paw High School
  • Zoë Payne – Philip Barbour High School
  • Kayli Mann – Pikeview High School
  • Natasha Askew – Richwood High School
  • Renee Varnell – Ripley High School
  • Suraya Boggs – Roane County High School
  • Natalie Adams – Shady Spring High School
  • Kayden Upton – South Charleston High School
  • Kayla McGary – South Harrison High School
  • Makenzie Hite – Spring Mills High School
  • Mattelyn Lamp – St. Marys High School
  • Katelyn Stillwagoner – Tyler Consolidated High School
  • Emily Pingley – Valley High School
  • Seth Vandevender – Webster County High School
  • Emily Budik – Weir High School
  • Alexis Cunningham – Westside High School
  • Kelly Williams – Wheeling Park High School
  • Adeline Sims – Wirt County High School
  • Dylan Cain – Woodrow Wilson High School
  • Kalli Stewart – Wyoming East High School

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