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Student’s poem earns statewide recognition

Ezekial Town writes poetry to make sense of his emotions, so when he was paging through a U.S. History book last year and saw some of the figures associated with World War II — the number of American dead, the number of total dead — he picked up a pen.

“I just couldn’t understand the numbers that were on that page,” said Town, who was an eighth grader at the time but just finished his freshman year at Rosemount High School. “I couldn’t understand the actual suffering.”

Town might have tossed that poem in the trash — the fate of most of his poetry — but he was going to see his girlfriend in his next class and he wanted to show it to her. So, he held onto it.

It’s a good thing he did.

That poem, or an edited version of it, just won Town second place in his age category in a statewide poetry contest sponsored by U.S. Sen. Al Franken. The theme of the contest was Celebrating the Veteran in my Life.

Town entered Franken’s contest after hearing about it from his English teacher at RHS. The contest had a 250-word limit, so Town had to trim what he had written a year earlier. That wasn’t easy.

“I didn’t want to cut any part of it,” he said. “The poem I wrote at the time I was writing it was purely my emotions.”

Still, a shorter version of the poem was good enough to earn Town a trip to Franken’s Minnesota office. He met with the senator as well as Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and high-ranking Minnesota military officials. He also got to talk with the other young poets who had finished in the top three in each of the three age divisions.

“I felt very lucky to be one of the nine that got to be there that day,” Town said. “It was a beautiful time.”

This isn’t the first time Town’s poetry has been entered in a competition. When he was in third grade his teacher entered one of his poems in the Minnesota State Fair. He didn’t win anything then.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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