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News & Notes: A new poetry champ

Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris of the Oregon School for the Deaf wins the Poetry Out Loud state title; new at the art museum; downtown art space trashed.

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Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris, Oregon’s new Poetry Out Loud champion.

Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris, a senior at Oregon School for the Deaf, is the state’s new 2022 Poetry Out Loud champion. Holmes-Gournaris, of Monmouth, won the annual competition on Friday, being chosen from among 11 high-school finalists. Maria Daniels, a sophomore at St. Stephens Academy in Beaverton, was named runner-up.

Maria Daniels, Oregon Poetry Out Loud runner-up.

This year’s competition was held virtually, and Holmes-Gournaris will advance to the national Poetry Out Loud competition, which also will be held virtually, with semifinals May 1 and finals June 5. If he’s unable to move on, Daniels will represent Oregon in the finals.

“I am shocked and excited,” Holmes-Gournaris said moments after the results were announced. “I have been trying for years to win. I really enjoy this field.”

Holmes-Gournaris, who also presides over his school’s student body government and competes on the school’s basketball and track teams, performed three poems in the state contest: “The Song of the Smoke,” by W.E.B. Du Bois, “Caged Bird,” by Maya Angelou; and “Silence,” by Thomas Hood. He performed in the expressive, dancerly language of signing.

“Trayshun brought originality and a strong poise to each of his poems, even to something as well-known as Maya Angelou’s ‘Caged Bird,'” Portland Creative Laureate Emeritus Subashini Ganesan, who served as a judge for the state contest, said in a release from the Oregon Arts Commission.

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

The national Poetry Out Loud competition is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, with state arts agencies across the nation, including the Oregon Arts Commission.

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THE PORTLAND ART MUSEUM has a couple of interesting-looking events coming up, the first in conjunction with its current exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism.

  • Multiple Journeys: The Life and Work of Gómez-Peña. At 7 p.m. March 18 in the museum’s Kridell Grand Ballroom the Mexican performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña will give a performance-lecture on his sociopolitical work.
  • Albina Queens II. At noon March 20 in the museum’s Whitsell Auditorium, you can see this short documentary film celebrating the diversity of Black femininity in Northeast Portland. It’s part of the museum’s larger project Apex: Sharita Towne and a Black Art Ecology of Portland, which continues into July.

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KGW-8 TELEVISION REPORTS that a downtown Portland gallery has been broken into and trashed, ruining an exhibition. In the story Art Exhibit Canceled After Break-in at Portland Art Gallery, Mike Benner reports that the art space ILY2 gallery, near Southwest 10th Avenue and Oak Street, was broken into and vandalized in early March, shortly after an exhibition of work by artist Taravat Talepasand, meant to run through March, was installed. Much of the art was reported damaged or stolen, and the exhibit has been canceled.

Senior Editor

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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