Kate Brown

Kate Brown recites a poem during the January Stockton R-I school board meeting.

She did not win, she did not even qualify for the final round, but Stockton High School 2019 graduate Kate Brown made a lifetime worth of memories at the national Poetry Out Loud competition.

Brown had earlier won local and state events in the poetry recitation competition and earned a trip into the national event Tuesday-Wednesday April 30-May 1, at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in the nation’s capital. Students from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, vied for the title.

“Going into the national contest, I had no idea what to expect,” Brown said. “I had never competed at a national level before. If I’m being honest, I was very nervous. However, once I started to meet some of the contestants, most of my anxiety about competing went away.”

Brown prepared three poems to recite: “I Have a Time Machine,” by Brenda Shaughnessy, “Dover Beach,” by Matthew Arnold and “Quite Frankly,” by Mark Halliday.

Brown made two appearances on stage, hoping to be one of three to advance from the Midwest and South Central region, but she came up short.

“Unfortunately, I did not advance to finals,” Brown said. “I was only a little disappointed, because not advancing gave my family and I more time to explore Washington, D.C.”

One of Brown’s fondest memories actually came spending time with her fellow contestants after the competition was over.

“We found this huge banquet room and there was no one in there, so we set up chairs,” Brown recalled. We started out talking, and then someone stood up in the middle of the chairs and just had her phone out and read something she wrote. Then everyone just started doing that, because most of the people there also wrote their own poetry, so that was really interesting. Most of the people shared something and they’re all just so good and talented and had so much passion about what they had written.

“I got to hear poems written out of pain and happiness, poems written to bring change and poems that pointed out flaws in our society,” Brown said. “I had never been a part of something like that, and I even shared something I wrote, and it was awesome. I am extremely thankful I was able to take part in Poetry Out Loud; it impacted my life in such an amazing way.”

Brown, also an avid photographer, will attend Missouri State University this fall, majoring in electronic arts.

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