Meet Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris, Oregon’s Poetry Out Loud winner

For the first seven years of his life, Trayshun Holmes-Gournaris lived in a world without words.

Now, to his own surprise, the Monmouth teenager has won a statewide poetry reciting contest.

“I didn’t expect that,” Holmes-Gournaris, a senior at the Oregon School for the Deaf, said through an interpreter. “But I’m happy.”

Deaf since birth, Holmes-Gournaris lived in foster care until he was adopted at age 7. He had never learned a formal means of communication.

“When I was born, really, I didn’t have any language, no way of communicating, right?” Holmes-Gournaris said. “No one teaching me, from zero to seven, people would talk and I would just be looking at them, not understanding what they were saying.”

I have enrolled in the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem when I moved to Oregon. He first had to learn American Sign Language, then to read and write English. One of his moms from him is deaf and helped him learn ASL, too.

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