Taylor Fang has been keeping a secret for several months and she’s “super excited” to finally be able to share the good news.
The 17-year-old Logan High School student (soon-to-be-a-senior) is one of five teens across the country selected to serve for a year as National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.
As part of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Fang decided to submit some of her writings last year.
“I’ve been writing for a long time,” she said. “The original works I submitted included selections of poetry.”
A committee then examined more than 20,000 works from students grades 10-11. Fang was among 35 semi-finalists identified as the most gifted young poets in their regions, based on their originality, technical skills and personal voice.
“I didn’t expect to be one of the semi-finalists,” said Fang, who was invited to submit additional poetry and performance videos.
The five National Student Poets were then selected by a panel of distinguished jurors and the honor for Fang became official Thursday. She will be representing the Western geographical region of the nation and will spend the next year sharing her passion for poetry.
“We are basically serving as poetry ambassadors trying to spread poetry to more people, especially students and people of all backgrounds,” Fang said. “Poetry not only matters to young people, but it can matter to everyone and it has an important place in being able to bring us together and reach out to other people through language and discovering our individual voices.”
Fang was born and raised in Logan and is the daughter of Ning Fang and Xiaoqin Pan. She said most of her writings and poetry are “based on my personal experiences growing up in Utah and different aspects of my identity. I think poetry for me is a great way of delving deeper into different ideas that may be going around in my head that I haven’t really thought about that much,” she said.
In addition to her passion for writing, Fang is on the Logan High School tennis and debate teams. She said she loves spending time outdoors and going on hikes.
One of her poems, Ode to Suburbia, is about growing up in Logan. “It’s about celebrating where I’m from and where I’ve grown up,” Fang explained. “It’s about reflecting and digging in to the tension between wanting to get out of suburbia and actually appreciating what we have here,” she said.
As one of five National Student Poets, Fang also received a $5,000 academic award which she will use to further her education. As far as which university she’ll attend?
“I’m keeping my options open,” she exclaimed.
Below is a sample of one of Fang’s works of poetry.
Ode to Suburbia
Summer now. We miss time, forget to sleep. City-glint hurtling
through mountain and cow country, lights distant
as pink moons. The ceiling fan lops off
the ends of words. Landmarks named by the lines
of my bare feet—saguaro, prickly pear cacti, spray
of chickweed. Brother asks why a comet doesn’t hit
already, why we don’t take a rocketship
to the moon. This place is a drive-thru.
I give him my last butterscotch
to hold on his tongue, escape sliding into the gutter
thick and fast. Even as he says he’s dying
to get out, come August, the two of us will still stalk
the road, picking pearls of salt
from under fingernails. We make magic with a deck
of cards, prop our feet on the kitchen ledge.
Mama stirring gumbo, sinking cherries
in a gallon of liquor. She sighs
when she sees us. My brother and I, always waiting
for something more. Moths shudder out
of the streetlight like goldenrod.
Across the cul-de-sac, the neighbor feeds potatoes
to crows. Piece by piece. Dollar bills tacked
to her fridge door, puckering
under my gaze. Not enough
for exodus, for deluge. For anything, really.
We wait, jammed to the window, fingers
pressed to dusk, our breath
on the white-chip glass.