By Don Nelson
Liberty Bell High School junior Mia Stratman won the Methow Valley School District’s fifth annual Poetry Out Loud competition at The Merc Playhouse last week, qualifying to compete in the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud Contest in Spokane on Feb. 1.
Sophomore Lillian Cooley, last year’s winner, finished second and will be the alternate at the Spokane competition if Stratman can’t attend. Finishing third was junior Mackenzie Woodworth.
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. Last year, Cooley advanced from Spokane to the state finals, the fourth consecutive year the Methow Valley School District sent a competitor to that event.
Last week’s competition featured 12 students from Liberty Bell High School and the Independent Learning Center.
Stratman recited “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg” by Richard Hugo and “To Live With a Landscape” by Constance Urdang. Cooley recited “Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud and “Personal” by Tony Hoagland. Woodworth recited “For the Climbers” by Kevin Craft and “Larkinesque” by Michael Ryan.
The competitors advanced from previous rounds in their high school classes. Each chose two poems to recite from a list provided by the national Poetry Out Loud organization.
Also competing last week were Cash McClane, Nate Hirsch, Leo Shaw, Maya Sheely, Shelby White, Spencer Hoffner, Amelia Eberline, Kyleen Romero and Tommie Ochoa. In addition to Cooley, McClane, Hirsch and Shaw all competed last year as well.
Judges were Don Nelson, Dotti Wilson, Jane Orme and Subhaga Crystal Bacon. Ashley Lodato was the accuracy judge and Sara Mounsey was the prompter. Teachers Kelly Grayum, Dani Golden, David Aspholm and Adam Kaufman tabulated scores. Thome George was the students’ performance coach.
Other previous winners in the local competition were 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.