Webster County High School Student to Represent West Virginia at Poetry Out Loud Contest in Washington, D.C., April 25-26


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Webster County High School student Tyler Ray will represent West Virginia at the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C. on April 25-26.

Ray won the state competition hosted by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts on Saturday, March 4, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Sarah Beth Ealy of Morgantown High School was the runner-up.

Ray recited Larkinesque by Michael Ryan, Novel by Arthur Rimbaud and Siblings by Patricia Smith.


’s poems included Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lions by Sandra McPherson and The Albatross by Kate Bass.

Thirty-six students from high schools in 26 counties competed in the semifinals on Friday, March 3, 2017, with the top 10 contestants competing Saturday in the state final. A complete list of semifinalists and their schools is attached. Top 10 finalists and Top 5 finalists are also noted.

Ray received $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals. Webster County High School received a $500 stipend to buy poetry books and materials. His teacher is Greta Cox.

As the runner-up, Ealy received $100 and $200 for her school to purchase poetry books and materials. Her teacher is Kevin Colistra.

West Virginia artist Nik Botkin of Kanawha County was commissioned to create the championship award and a companion trophy, which will be on display at Webster County High School.

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest 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 students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

This year, the Poetry Out Loud competition continued to grow. Beginning at the classroom level, 4,585 students and 120 teachers at 44 West Virginia high schools participated in the program.

“We’re very pleased that West Virginia’s teachers and students have not only embraced this program, but excelled.  The student performances were extremely impressive, and that reflects the high quality of the Poetry Out Loud curriculum and the dedication of the teachers who deliver it in the classroom,” said Jim Wolfe, state Poetry Out Loud coordinator and arts in education coordinator for the division.​

2017 POL winner and runner-up photo.jpg

Contact Information

For more information about Poetry Out Loud and the state semifinal and final competition, contact Wolfe at (304) 558-0240 or james.d.wolfe@wv.gov.