By Don Nelson
Liberty Bell High School sophomore Cymone Van Marter took first place in the Methow Valley School District’s seventh annual Poetry Out Loud competition at The Merc Playhouse last Wednesday (Dec. 12).
Van Marter qualified to compete in the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud Contest in Spokane in February representing Liberty Bell. Also qualifying was Chloe Blum; Blum won the competition for the Independent Learning Center (ILC).
Freshman Stella Gitchos finished second and will be the alternate for Liberty Bell at the Spokane competition if Van Marter can’t attend. Finishing third was sophomore Greta Laesch.
The top two finishers at the Spokane regional competition advance to the state finals in March in Tacoma. The Washington state winner goes to the national finals in Washington, D.C.
This year’s competition featured 11 students from Liberty Bell and two from the Independent Learning Center. 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.
Van Marter recited “Death of a Naturalist” by Seamus Heany and “The Kiss” by Robert Graves.
Gitchos recited “Candles” by Carl Dennis and “The Barnacle” by A. E. Stallings. Laesch recited “Emplumada” by Lorna Dee Cervantes and “They Are Hostile Nations” by Margarete Atwood. Blum recited “Ars Poetica” by Archibald McLeish and “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke.
Also competing were Annika Libby, Keeley Brooks, Wyatt Albright, Rivers Leeman from the ILC, Magnolia Brown, Daryn Shrum, Hazel Culpsmith, Eli Neithlich and Angelique Kelley.
Brooks, Libby and Van Marter also competed last year.
The contest was coordinated by Liberty Bell teacher Kelly Grayum. Scoring judges were Don Nelson, Christine Kendall and Jane Orme. Michele Bianchi was the accuracy judge and Sara Mounsey was the prompter. Score tabulators were David Aspholm and Adam Kaufman. Thome George was the students’ performance coach. Scott Barber provided the musical entertainment.
Previous winners in the local competition were Mackenzie Woodworth in 2017, 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 and Methow Arts, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization.