All students attending a WV high school or college are invited to compete in the annual Pearl S. Buck writing contest. Awards of $1,000 each will be given to an undergraduate and graduate student winner, and a high school winner will receive $250 and a scholarship to the WVU English Department’s Summer Scholars program ($600 value).

Applicants must submit an original writing in any literary genre (e.g., fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, essay, children’s literature, playwriting, blog, etc.) no later than March 2, 2018. Word maximum is 10,000.

Contest details and submission portal can be found here:

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 and 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 English Language Arts. 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 author Bil Lepp, West Virginia native and Oscar nominee Chris Sarandon, musicians Kaia Kater and Christian Lopez, poet Nikki Giovanni, and the state’s poet laureate Marc Harshman.

For more information visit or contact Jim Wolfe, Arts in Education Coordinator (

The YWCA Wheeling is proud to announce the continuation and additions to the Project on Racism Contest, formerly known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest. Beginning this year, a music/song contest, and a Five Minute Film contest are included, along with the essays. The Project on Racism Contest still honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while encouraging students’ creativity through essay writing, musical expression, and film. The YWCA Wheeling is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Attached to this email is a packet that provides additional details, contest guidelines, etc.

The 2018 Project on Racism Contest will be based on the following quote from Dr. King:

“The question is not, ‘If I stop to help these men in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help these men*, what will happen to them?’ That’s the question”

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – when discussing the sanitation worker’s strike

Students are invited to submit their entries on or before Wednesday, November 1, 2017. If you have questions please contact Ron Scott Jr., Program Director, Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach, YWCA Wheeling, 304.232.0511 or

2020 WV Young Writers Contest Information (YWC)

For over 30 years, the West Virginia Young Writers Contest has celebrated student writing in the state. The YWC grows out of a deep commitment to writing in all subjects, and to the publishing, displaying, and celebrating of student writing.

Teachers and administrators in each county will encourage students to submit writing for judging, first at the school, and then the county level. Submissions may be on any topic and in any prose genre: fiction, nonfiction, narrative, memoir, or essay. Poetry is not eligible for submission and submissions must be free of graphics. Entries should be the sole creation of the student and composed during the current school year. The entry should be drafted in a manner which best supports the use of process writing and the concept of the writer’s workshop.

Home-schooled students and students in private schools may participate, subject to the guidelines and supervision by the county in which they reside. YWC County Coordinators are encouraged to share contest information with private schools and home school associations. Winning entries from private schools and from home-schooled students must be judged at the county level.

State winners will be notified in March, but not announced to the public until Young Writers Day on May 8, 2020, at the University of Charleston.  First-place county winners will receive commemorative certificates and participate in workshops with published authors/presenters on WV Young Writers Day. State winners in each of the six contest categories will receive checks of $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place.

Questions about the Contest?

Contact: Dr. Barbara O’Byrne, Director CWVWP or 304.746.1986

Resources for Schools and Teachers

Resources for County Coordinators

Contest Forms

2016 Young Writers Day Information