Photos by Don Nelson

Eleven students recited two poems each in the Poetry Out Loud competition Monday night at The Merc Playhouse.

By Don Nelson

Liberty Bell High School senior Mackenzie Woodworth moved up two spots from her third-place finish last year to take first place in the Methow Valley School District’s sixth annual Poetry Out Loud competition at The Merc Playhouse on Monday (Dec. 11).

Woodworth qualified to compete in the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud Contest in Spokane in February.

Junior Kyleen Romero finished second and will be the alternate at the Spokane competition if Woodworth can’t attend. Finishing third was senior Eden Davis.

The top two finishers at the Spokane competition advance to the state finals in March in Tacoma. The Washington state winner goes to the national finals in Washington, D.C.

The Monday competition featured 11 students from Liberty Bell High School and the Independent Learning Center (one contestant had to drop out because of illness). The competitors advanced from previous rounds in their high school classes. Each competitor recited two poems selected from a list provided by the national Poetry Out Loud organization.

Mackenzie Woodworth

Woodworth recited “I Go Back to 1937” by Sharon Olds and “Memory as a Hearing Aid” by Tony Hoagland.

Romero recited “Love Song” by Dorothy Parker and “Bent to the Earth” by Blas Manuel De Luna. Davis recited “Life Cycle of Common Man” by Howard Nemerov and “The Truly Great” by Stephen Spender.

Also competing were Keeley Brooks, Maya Sheely, Gretta Eberline, Nicholas Fitzmaurice, Annika Libby, Cymone Van Marter, Kristy Vieth and Liv Aspholm. Sheely and Romero also competed last year.

The contest was coordinated by Liberty Bell English teacher Kelly Grayum. Judges were Don Nelson, Dotti Wilson and Sam Lucy. Ashley Lodato was the accuracy judge and Cindy Williams-Gutierrez was the prompter. Thome George was the students’ performance coach.

Previous winners in the local competition were Mia Stratman in 2016, Lillian Cooley in 2015, Claire Waichler in 2014, Liam Daily in 2013 and the late Tom Zbyszewski in 2012.

The competition, presented in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the Methow Valley Public School Funding Alliance and Methow Arts, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization.