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Student at the Oregon School for the Deaf is named Oregon's 2022 Poetry Out Loud champion.

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON ARTS COMMISSION - Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris of Monmouth, a senior at Oregon School for the Deaf, was crowned the 2022 Oregon Poetry Out Loud state champion Friday.

A deaf student has won this year's poetry reading competition by signing two classic American poems and one by a British Romantic. Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris of Monmouth, a senior at the Oregon School for the Deaf, was crowned the 2022 Oregon Poetry Out Loud state champion Friday, March 11.

He performed 'The Song of the Smoke' by W.E.B. Du Bois, 'Caged Bird' by Maya Angelou and 'Silence' by Thomas Hood, using American Sign Language, presented without subtitles or a voiceover. The competition was held virtually this year because of the pandemic. The students recorded their performances and judges had a few hours to look them over. The announcement was made Friday evening and two students were called to record reaction videos.

Holmes-Gournaris was one of 11 finalists who competed at Friday's Virtual Poetry Out Loud State Contest. He advances to the national Poetry Out Loud competition, to be held virtually on May 1 (semifinals) and June 5 (finals).

Holmes-Gournaris also competed in the state contest in 2021. At the Oregon School for the Deaf he presides over student body government and plays on the basketball and track teams. He loves all animals, music, dancing and "clowning." In the future, he would like a career in a trade that requires working with his hands.

Maria Daniels, a sophomore at St. Stephens Academy in Beaverton, was named runner-up.

PHOTO: GAYLE ROBERTSON OREGON SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF  - Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris of Monmouth, a senior at Oregon School for the Deaf, is the 2022 Oregon Poetry Out Loud state champion.

"I am shocked and excited," said Holmes-Gournaris moments after the results were announced. "I have been trying for years to win. I really enjoy this field." He signed his reaction, which was interpreted into spoken words.

"Trayshun brought originality and a strong poise to each of his poems, even to something as well-known as Maya Angelou's "Caged Bird," said Portland Creative Laureate Emeritus Subashini Ganesan, who served as a judge for the state contest. "He stood out amongst his peers because he is a grounded competitor who allows his unique strengths to authentically permeate his presentations."

The Arts Commission established accessibility guidelines for deaf students to participate in Poetry Out Loud in 2009 when the Oregon School for the Deaf began participating. Those guidelines have now become a national standard. Holmes-Gournaris is the second state champion to be named from the school; former OSFD student Tiffany Hill was the 2009 Poetry Out Loud state champion.

"It was such an honor to witness the dedication and creativity of the students and teachers who participated this year," said Briana Linden, the Arts Commission's Poetry Out Loud coordinator. "It's commendable how they continue to be flexible as learning modalities shift and yet shine through with powerful and nuanced performances."

"This was Trayshun's second year participating with Poetry Out Loud and his performances this year blew us away," Linden said. "He shows us that poetry performance has no boundaries and also serves as a powerful and important reminder that those who are deaf and disabled are an integral part of our artistic communities. We are overjoyed to support Trayshun as he moves forward to nationals."

The other nine students who competed, after winning their school competitions, are: Clara Bennett, Crater High School, Central Point; Cecily Cooper, Crook County High School, Prineville; Juwon Kim, Lakeridge High School, Lake Oswego; Alyssia Menezes, Lincoln High School, Portland; Elena Morris, Oregon Charter Academy, Mill City; Ava Neudeck, West Linn High School, West Linn; Mariah Reynolds, Redmond High School, Redmond; Auria Vallloton, Oakland High School, Oakland; and Willa Wise, Grant High School, Portland.

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest for high school students, organized in Oregon by the Oregon Arts Commission HYPERLINK "http://www.oregonartscommission.org" www.oregonartscommission.org n collaboration with the NEA and the Poetry Foundation. Participants memorize and present poems, practicing public speaking skills while exploring the complexity of poetry.

"Silence"

by Thomas Hood

There is a silence where hath been no sound,

There is a silence where no sound may be,

In the cold grave — under the deep deep sea,

Or in the wide desert where no life is found,

Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;

No voice is hush'd — no life treads silently,

But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,

That never spoke, over the idle ground:

But in green ruins, in the desolate walls

Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,

Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,

And owls, that flit continually between,

Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,

There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.


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