Kate Brown, 2019 Missouri State Champion, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

Kate Brown rose from among nearly 4,500 other Missouri high school students to represent our state at the national finals of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C. on April 29–May 1, 2019.

As Missouri state champion, Ms. Brown vied for the title of national champion with the 52 other state and territorial champions. “What a great experience for me, and my family,” the 17-year-old senior from Stockton High School said. “I felt good about my performance. I will never forget this week.”

Ms. Brown won her Missouri championship at the state finals in Jefferson City on March 14. Nearly 4,500 other Missouri high school students competed in a pyramid structure of contests starting at the classroom level, then school-wide, then regional. Ms. Brown was the champion of the Missouri Southwest Region.

As state champion, Ms. Brown received $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals for herself and an adult chaperone. Stockton High School received $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

The first Missouri runner-up was 17-year-old Eliza Shaffer, a junior at the Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City. She received $100, with $200 for her school.

Ms. Brown took to Washington the three poems with which she won the Missouri championship: I Have a Time Machine by Brenda Shaughnessy, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold, and Quite Frankly by Mark Halliday.

Watch the videos of the 2019 Missouri State Finals

Introductions, Round 1, and Round 2 – Kate Brown performs I Have a Time Machine at 29:50 and Dover Beach at 47:30
Round 3 and Awards – Kate Brown performs Quite Frankly at 8:15

Missouri’s regional champions of the 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

Front row, left to right
St. Louis County | Rachel Solverud, junior, Nerinx Hall (Webster Groves)
Southwest | Kate Brown, senior, Stockton High School – MISSOURI STATE CHAMPION
Aliki Barnstone, Missouri Poet Laureate 2016-19
Emily Bauer, 2017 Missouri State Champion (judge)
Northwest | Allyah Smith, junior, St. Joseph Christian School (St. Joseph)

Back row, left to right
St. Charles County | Amelia Truong, sophomore, Holt High School (Wentzville)
Central | Blake Johnson, senior, School of the Osage High School (Osage Beach)
Kansas City | Eliza Shaffer, junior, The Pembroke Hill School – First Runner-up
St. Louis City | Lara Wulff, sophomore, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School
Northeast | Logan Markley, senior, Palmyra High School

The annual Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest encourages the nation’s high school students to experience great poetry through participating in a dynamic nationwide recitation competition. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Missouri has participated in Poetry Out Loud every year since the program was founded in 2006 by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The Poetry Foundation and the NEA administer Poetry Out Loud together with the state arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education work in partnership to bring Poetry Out Loud to Missouri.

14 years of Poetry Out Loud in Missouri

From the first Poetry Out Loud in 2006, these are Missouri’s State Champions.

2019 | Kate Brown, Stockton High School, Stockton
2018 | Shakira Cross, Hickman High School, Columbia
2017 | Emily Bauer, Parkway West High School, St. Louis County
2016 | Sarah Koo, Parkway North High School, St. Louis County
2015 | Maya Bryant, Holt High School, Wentzville
2014 | Thomas Fields, St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
2013 | Essence Imani Lee, Crossroads College Preparatory School, St. Louis

2012 | Cameron Locke, Stockton High School, Stockton
2011 | Terry Watkins, Jr., Crossroads College Preparatory, St. Louis
2010 | Nicole Andrews, Springfield R-12 Central High School, Springfield
2009 | Pete Winfrey, St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
2008 | Aryiel Everett, Park Hill South High School, Riverside
2007 | Michael Brown, Blue Springs High School, Blue Springs
2006 | Aislinn Lowry, Jefferson City High School, Jefferson City


Schools begin to register for Poetry Out Loud every fall at the beginning of the academic year. Check these resources to learn more about how the program works and the benefits it brings to students and schools. Also, contact Virginia Sanders, Missouri Poetry Out Loud coordinator, at 314-340-6851 or virginia.sanders@ltgov.mo.gov.

  • Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest
  • National Endowment for the Arts pages about Poetry Out Loud
  • Poetry Foundation
  • Get Involved in Poetry Out Loud! video – Hear from students and teachers about why they love the program in this five-minute video. Missouri is prominently featured. There are comments from Thomas Fields, 2014 Missouri State Champion and one of only nine finalists in the 2014 nationals. There are also comments from Charles Hussung, teacher at St. Louis University High School at which Thomas was a senior, and from Virginia Sanders of the Missouri Arts Council, our Missouri Poetry Out Loud coordinator.
  • Letter (PDF) from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to school superintendents describing the 2016 program and how Poetry Out Loud benefits schools
  • Article (PDF) by the National Association of State Arts Agencies lauding the program’s life-changing “power of poetry and partnership”