<h1>Forty-three students from across West Virginia will recite poems by Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Margaret Atwood, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Tarfia Faizullah, Charleston native Rita Mae Reese and many others during the 2018 Poetry Out Loud state finals competition set for Mar. 9-10, at the Culture Center in Charleston.<\/h1>\r\nBrett Napier from Greenbrier East High School is one of the 43 students participating in the competition, of which the winner will represent West Virginia at the 2018 national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, DC, on Apr. 24-25.\r\n\r\nStoryteller, 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 his works have received awards and recognition from the Parents\u2019 Choice Foundation, the National Parenting Publications Association and the Public Library Association. In 2011, he was awarded the National Storytelling Network\u2019s Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp is the author of six books and 16 audio collections.\r\n\r\nThe semi-final competition begins with Division I at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Mar. 9, followed by Division II at 2:30 p.m. Saturday\u2019s final competition begins at 1 p.m. West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman, poet\/fiddler Doug Van Gundy and poet\/lyricist Randi Ward will perform during the finals on Saturday. All sessions are free and open to the public.\r\n\r\nHarshman and Van Gundy will serve as judges, along with West Virginia author and songwriter Colleen Anderson; Cathey Crowell Sawyer, producing artistic director of Greenbrier Valley Theatre; Carol Taylor Johnson, professor of English at West Virginia State University; and Barter Theatre educator Megan Atkinson Hamilton.\r\n\r\nThe 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.\r\n\r\nThis year, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts commissioned Gilmer County artist Matt Thomas to create the West Virginia Poetry Out Loud champion trophy and a companion award that will be displayed at the winning school. Students will also receive original works created by Emily Sokolosky of Base Camp Printing Company in Charleston, West Virginia poet Randi Ward, and Matt Thomas.\r\n\r\nPoetry 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.\r\n\r\nFor more information, contact Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator, at 304-558-0240 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.\r\n\r\nThe WV Division of Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division\u2019s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org.