Ball State student headed to national slam poetry competition

Ball State senior Trea Kates isn’t just excited to represent his university on the national stage;

he’s humbled to be representing his hometown.

Born in Muncie, Kates, along with four teammates, will be attending the 19th annual College

Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) at the University of Houston April 10th through the


“I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” Kates said Sunday in his Muncie home while preparing

some work for the competition. “To be able to represent my school and my city, being born in Muncie, that makes it a little bit more special.”

Kates was selected in late 2018 as one of ten finalists to compete at Ball State’s CUPSI

preliminaries. It was there that he and his four teammates were selected for the national

competition. This wasn’t his first time auditioning for the honor.

“Sophomore year, I auditioned and I didn’t get chosen to be on the nationals team. Something

just told me (to audition again). I saw a flyer in the student center and I auditioned, and I really

just fell in love with it,” Kates said.

Ball State professor of English Mark Neely, who taught a poetry class in which Kates was a

student, says he will make a great addition to Ball State’s team.

“It’s a great honor to be selected for that team,” Neely said. “He’s a real natural performer. He seems really comfortable on stage, has a nice dynamic way of reading, and his poems are really strong.”

Kates is glad he took one last shot at the competition.

“I’m really glad that I auditioned my sophomore year, and came back and tried one last time my

senior year,” he said. “Obviously, it worked out. It was really random but I’m glad that I got into it.”


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