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Emma Fang said she hopes to compete in next year's Poetry Out Loud contest as well.

COURTESY PHOTO - Emma Fang was named runner-up at this year's Oregon Poetry Out Loud contest. Poetry has always had a space in Emma Fang's heart. Her earliest memory of it was of reading a Shel Silverstein book her family had at home.

She likes poetry because it's thoughtful and serves as a glimpse into someone's mind.

"It's just allowing myself to be in other people's shoes," she said.

Fang, a sophomore at West Linn High School, was named runner-up in the Oregon Poetry Out Loud state contest after winning the schoolwide competition at WLHS.

In the event that the state champion, Tabarjah Neal, is unable to participate in the national competition, Fang would represent Oregon.

Contestants at the state competition, which was held virtually this year, had to recite three poems from memory.

One poem had to be 25 lines or fewer, and one had to be written before the 20th century. Fang said she chose poems that resonated with her and had themes of body positivity, environmental beauty and philosophy.

She chose "Season of Phantasmal Peace" by Derek Walcott, "Flaxman" by Margaret Fuller and "Weighing In" by Rhina P. Espaillat.

As preparation for the competition, she read through each poem a few times and worked to connect it to her own thoughts and experiences. She said her goal was to find a few phases to latch onto and bring to life. She got input from teachers on how to put her interpretation into each poem.

"Flaxman" by Margaret Fuller was the most challenging in terms of applying her own interpretation.

"I think mainly because that poem is incredibly grounded and I tend to be an emotional person," she said.

She said one of her favorite parts of the competition was watching other contestants recite the poems they chose, because they all brought such different interpretations.

She said one performance that stuck with her was by a contestant who was deaf and mute. He used movement and sign language to convey the message of his poems.

Besides reciting poems others write, Fang said she also enjoys writing poetry.

"It's something I'm working toward," she said. "I think that poetry is just challenging when you write it yourself because it just requires you to be so authentic."

Count on hearing Fang recite poems in future Poetry Out Loud events.

"I'd personally really like to compete (again) because I think I gained a lot of insight from the experience, and it would be really exciting for me to try again," she said.


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