Riley Knowles comes out on top, advances to Districts


Brittany Park

Riley Knowles, sophomore, recites her winning poem “A Song in the Front Yard” by Gwendolyn Brooks. This is the third consecutive year that West Linn High School has put on the Poetry Out Loud competition. Knowles will be competing in Beaverton at the district competition March 7.

Riley Knowles, sophomore, won this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition on Feb. 20. Poetry Out Loud was introduced to West Linn High School by Andy West, English teacher, three years ago and it has been a success every year since. This competition is mainly for sophomores, and occasionally juniors, who enjoy reading poetry and competing while reading it. Students who advance to the school competition must first memorize a poem of their choice and win their classroom competitions.

This year’s competition took place Feb. 20 in the auditorium, and was organized and hosted by Ryan Marsh and Glenn Krake, English teachers. Sophomore English teachers introduced this project to their classes  just before winter break and students have been practicing since.

Students struggle the most with memorizing but also find it hard to balance their physical movements and tone of voice while speaking. However, that doesn’t stop students from performing.

“We had the most people in it than we’ve ever had,” Marsh said.

In class, Knowles was given a guide for planning her performances but for the most part composed them independently. Her English teacher, Bret Freyer, wishes he could take credit for her success but admits that he cannot.

“That younging has a knack for understanding a poem, then executing that interpretation,” Freyer said.

Knowles loves poetry, especially if it’s Sylvia Plath. Her love for Plath lead to her reading “Blackberrying” in the first round of the competition. The hardest part for Knowles was to do justice to each poem. She wanted to read in an appropriate tone for each poem, but also give her own interpretation of it.

“It’s actually pretty funny,” Knowles said. “I memorized my first poem at lunch the day I was going to present.”

Due to Riley’s success in the school competition, she will be competing March 7 in Beaverton at the district competitions.