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Two-time poetry champ returns to nationals

- Rosie Reyes, 18, to represent CAL at the national Poetry Out Loud competition


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Rosie Reyes recites 'The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd' by Alberto Rios at CAL, where she is a senior.

Rosie Reyes couldn’t believe the moment she was announced the second-time winner of Oregon’s Poetry Out Loud competition.

Since last year’s national competition, Reyes made it her mission to return to Washington, D.C. She even recited poetry in the airport once.

Reyes, 18, a senior at Gresham’s Center for Advanced Learning, will represent Oregon in the national competition April 28-30.

Last year, Reyes placed in the nation’s top 27 out of 350,000 participating students. She is one of nine returning state champions.

“Rosie is a charming young woman, and we’re excited to have her represent our state,” said Deb Vaughn, the Oregon Arts Commission’s education and Poetry Out Loud coordinator. “She came in last year on pure instinct and had great natural talent. This year she has built on that instinct and experience with great maturity and composure.”

Reyes will recite “The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd” by Alberto Rios, “Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath and “It was not death, for I stood up” by Emily Dickinson.

In addition to her rigorous coursework at CAL, Reyes serves as vice student body president of her home school, Reynolds High School. She plans to attend Oregon State or Southern Oregon University next year, majoring in occupational therapy.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Reyes is one of nine returning state champions in the Poetry Out Loud national competition.

“She keeps me way more on task than I keep her on task,” joked Mark Turner, Reyes’ English teacher and coach. Turner has called Reyes fearless in her ability to memorize poems and impressive in her confidence.

“Rosie was a catalyst for us to turn our school event into more of an attraction — we made it a nice evening event this year,” Turner said.

Added Carol Egan, director of CAL, “To see a student demonstrate her character in such a short amount of time says a lot about Rosie. She is a risk taker with great follow-through.”

Reyes will attend the national competition with her mother, Gemma Reyes. The competition is a program of the Oregon Arts Commission, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, aiming to revive poetry as an oral art form.

“I’m happy I discovered poetry,” Reyes said. “It opened my eyes to all the beautiful literature I’ve missed all my life. Now I have so much appreciation for it.”

This year, state winners had the opportunity to have lunch with Oregon’s poet laureate, PaulAnn Petersen.

Vaughn noted one student’s comment on the benefits of memorizing poetry: “In my life, so often I don’t have the right words or answers. When I memorize a poem, I always know what to say.”

For more information about Poetry Out Loud, call 503-986-0082 or visit poetryoutloud.org.



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