October 1, 2022

Pamplin Media Group – Deaf Student Wins Poetry Reading Contest

A student from Oregon School for the Deaf is named 2022 Oregon Poetry Out Loud Champion.

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 from Oregon School for the Deaf, was crowned 2022 Oregon Poetry Out Loud State Champion on Friday, March 11.

He performed “The Song of Smoke” by WEB DuBois, ‘Bird in a cage’ by Maya Angelou and ‘Silence’ by Thomas Hood, using American Sign Language, presented without subtitles or voice-over. The competition was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The students recorded their performances and the judges had a few hours to watch them. The announcement was made on Friday evening and two students were called in to record reaction videos.

Holmes-Gournaris was one of 11 finalists who entered Friday’s Virtual Poetry Out Loud state competition. He qualifies for the national Poetry Out Loud competition, which will be held virtually on May 1 (semi-finals) and June 5 (finals).

Holmes-Gournaris also entered the state pageant in 2021. At Oregon School for the Deaf, he chairs student body government and plays on the basketball and track teams. He loves all animals, music, dancing and the “clown”. In the future, he would like to pursue a career in a trade that requires working with his hands.

Maria Daniels, a sophomore at St. Stephens Academy in Beaverton, was named a finalist.

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’m shocked and excited,” Holmes-Gournaris said moments after the results were announced. “I tried for years to win. I really like this area.” He signed his reaction, which was translated into words.

“Trayshun brought originality and a solid balance to each of his poems, even something as well-known as Maya Angelou’s ‘Caged Bird,'” said Portland creative honoree Subashini Ganesan, who was a judge for the state competition. among his peers because he is a strong 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. These guidelines have now become a national standard. Holmes-Gournaris is the second state champion to be named from the school; OSFD alumnus 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, Arts Commission Poetry Out Loud Coordinator. “It’s commendable how they continue to be flexible as learning modalities change and yet shine with powerful and nuanced performances.”

“This was Trayshun’s second year on Poetry Out Loud and her performances this year blew us away,” Linden said. “It shows us that poetic performance has no boundaries and also serves as a powerful and important reminder that people who are deaf and disabled are an integral part of our artistic communities. national championships.”

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 competition for high school students, organized in Oregon by the Oregon Arts Commission HYPERLINK “http://www.oregonartscommission.org” www.oregonartscommission.org in collaboration with the NEA and the Poetry Foundation. Participants memorize and present poems, practice public speaking while exploring the complexity of poetry.


by Thomas Hood

There’s a silence where there’s been no sound,

There is a silence where no sound can be,

In the cold grave – under the deep deep sea,

Or in the vast desert where no life is found,

Who has been mute, and who must still sleep soundly;

No voice is muffled – no life walks silently,

But clouds and cloud shadows roam free,

Who has never spoken, on the unoccupied ground:

But in the green ruins, in the desolate walls

Of ancient palaces, where man has been,

Although the red fox, or the wild hyena, calls,

And the owls, which continually flit among themselves,

Shout to the echo, and the weak winds moan,

There is true Silence, self-aware and alone.

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