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 (TBA). 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 the WV Culture Poetry Out Loud page or contact Jim Wolfe, Arts in Education Coordinator (James.D.Wolfe@wv.gov).

2024 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.

Questions about the Contest?

Contact: Dr. Barbara O’Byrne, Director CWVWP bobyrne@marshall.edu or 304.746.1986

Resources for Schools and Teachers

Resources for County Coordinators

Contest Forms

Young Writers Day Photos