University of Charleston

University of Charleston

George Washington High School junior Kaitlyn Erby has been named the first Youth Poet Laureate for Charleston, WV.

Five finalists were honored at a ceremony on April 15 at the University of Charleston, with Erby being named the winner. The competition was sponsored by the University’s English Department and by the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Erby is a member of the National Honor Society. She is interested in nursing as a career, and she takes dual credit nursing classes at BridgeValley Community and Technical College.

She was chosen by a panel of judges that included Colleen Anderson, writer, musician, and graphic designer; Crystal Good, creative writer; Doug Van Gundy, director of the Low Residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College; and acclaimed poet Paula Lepp.

The four runners up were Alexis Scott, Cheyenne Baker, Hope Sizemore, and Ashton Keister, all students at South Charleston High School.

Honorable Mention went to Maryn Reed and Davia Hassig of George Washington High School; Kayla Granger, Aliyah Quinet, Riley Martin, Arryana Noll, Alexander Franck, Mya Toombs, Shania Gibson, and Jayden Barnett, all of South Charleston High School.

The National Youth Poet Laureate Program honors the nation’s top youth poets. The program works with local youth literary arts organizations across the United States to identify and celebrate exceptional youth poets who use their voice to inspire change. Learn more:  The program is an initiative of Urban Word – the largest and most comprehensive youth literary arts organization in the country. Learn more:


For more information about Charleston’s Youth Poet Laureate initiative, contact Jeannie Dalporto, or Catherine Wilbur