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Local students to compete in Poetry Out Loud recitation contest

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- Several local students will be among those competing Friday through Saturday, March 8-9, in the semifinal and final rounds of the Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The event, sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, will determine the state champion who will move on to the national finals April 28-30, in Washington, D.C.

Among the 30 students from high schools in 23 counties are Aeesha Ranavaya from Cabell Midland, Grace Pritt from Hurricane, Jared Workman from Spring Valley, Peyton Humphreys, Wahama and Caitlin Fowlkes, Winfield. They all are competing under division I, which starts at 10 a.m. Friday.

The state champion will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to the national finals. Commissioned by the Division, West Virginia artists Chris Dutch and Robin Hammer, both of Charleston, created an artistic trophy for the winning student and a traveling trophy, which will go to the winning student's school for a year.

Other awards include a $500 stipend to the winner's school for the purchase of poetry books, $100 to the runner-up and $200 to that student's school library.

The event welcomes back actor and West Virginia native Chris Sarandon, returning for his sixth year, as emcee for the final contest at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Saturday program also will feature two special guest performances. West Virginia's poet laureate, Marc Harshman, will address the audience and serve as a judge for the finals. In addition, guitarist Charlie Hunter and jazz drummer Scott Amendola will perform.

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.