40th Annual Parkmont Poetry Festival: Saturday, April 30, 2022.

2021 Winner

Reluctant to Love

Who are we?

Are we thugs, gangsters, outlaws?

Or are we heroes…

Always fighting for a country that doesn’t love us back?


A country that has yet to face its history,

A country that is destined to repeat its mistakes…

If nothing changes.


We are commonly created,

One country, one body, with many parts,

When one part is in pain, the whole body suffers.


We are needed more than ever,

In a nation, split by race and hatred.


Hatred for the other side,

Believing that their opinions must be lies.

Hatred for the opposition,

Saying it must be wrong, if it’s not my opinion.


Hatred for opposing views,

Claiming I can’t agree, I must refuse.

So quick to hate,

But so reluctant to love.


Reluctant to love the black on my skin.

Resistant to acknowledge the pain we’ve been through.

What if we were quicker to listen and slower to judge?

Maybe we could get a little closer to each other — and a lot better at love.

Kadari Machen

Kadari Machen

Gonzaga College High School

Grade: 11


Silver Spring, MD


Columbia, MD

Favorite Author or Book:

Langston Hughes

Dream for the Future:

I want to make the world a more loving place through my art and creativity.

Inspirational Figure:

My brother inspires me the most because he has given up everything to follow his dreams, and that type of passion is something I want to emulate.