“I’m just in shock,” Poetry Out Loud state champion Kari Morgan of Bend said. “I wasn’t expecting to win at all. Because I wasn’t expecting it and all the hearing poetry contestants that were there, I’m just so surprised because they were amazing.”
Morgan competed in the Oregon last weekend. She went in a first-time competitor and she came out a champion.
She also just happens to be completely deaf.
“Her hearing loss is not an obstacle,” Morgan’s mother Camille Christensen said. “For her to be able to participate in these competitions that have non-deaf students is empowering for them, and knowing they can succeed as well.”
There are some extra challenges for Morgan.
- She must learn how to translate the poems from English into American Sign Language from her teachers.
- She also cant hear the words of the poems or the emotion behind them.
- And she doesn’t have the advantage of voice inflection her competitors do.
Morgan has to make up for that with hand movements and facial expressions.
“I was thinking about how my facial expressions were going to match,” Morgan said. “We want to match the signs with the English, but also match it with that emotion. So trying to get my facial expressions throughout the entire poem and matching the ASL, that was a huge challenge we were able to make it through.”
Morgan’s next step is to compete at nationals in Washington D.C. May 8-10.