zane landin

Writing out his own perspective

Timed academic essays, he realized, were not his strong suit, but free-flowing writing was.

For senior Zane Landin, writing evolved from an obligatory, school-related task to a hobby that now helps unclutter his mind. His developed passion eventually earned him his accomplishments in the Scholastic Art and Writing contest.

Landin’s interest in writing peaked when he began writing autobiography entries approximately every month throughout his junior year.

“My passion brings [my writing] to life; it develops [literature] that comes from essentially nothing and then blossoms. Other people are able to see what you are thinking and visualize what you were feeling — writing is powerful. Writing is us [authors] telling a story through generations to be heard,” Landin said. “In addition, it is a way to express my inner thoughts that I sometimes have trouble expressing aloud.”

During the summer, Landin learned about the contest while searching for writing competition opportunities. He spent six months compiling both pre-written and newly-created writings before submission. His source of inspiration ranges from personal experiences to fictional stories. One of his Silver Key poems, “Migraines,” is based on his struggles with headaches.

“Some of [my works] are fiction, but ‘Migraines’ was a hundred percent real about how sometimes it’s hard for me to deal with the pain [from migraines],” Landin said. “Poems are usually about how we feel or take experiences through breakups or deaths, and I take those experiences and expand on how I feel about them.”

Of the 15 works he has submitted to the contest, Landin won six honorable mentions, two Silver Key Awards and one Gold Key Award. From the 17,000 Gold Key regional winners, 2,000 will be chosen on March 14 for the National Gold Medal, giving them the chance to have their works published and visit Carnegie Hall.

“I was hoping to win, but not expecting it, because there are thousands and thousands of other kids that are also very passionate and have been writing since they were young. I have been writing poetry for only around 9 months. It was surprising [to receive awards], and I am grateful,” Landin said.

Landin’s poem that received the Gold Key Award, “Fifty Shades of My Culture,” provides personal insight into his Mexican heritage. The poem addresses themes of racism, stereotyping and cultural education throughout multiple generations.

“A lot of people don’t think I am [Mexican] just because my last name is Landin, and I don’t look [Mexican],” Landin said. “The whole poem is essentially about how when our ancestors die, we need to continue their wisdom by teaching their principles and guiding other people in their knowledge and struggles. The poem is one of my shortest, but it’s also one of my favorites.”

Given his recent successes, Landin plans to participate in more competitions in the future, such as the National Youth Arts Award contest.    

“The whole contest has really changed how I feel as a writer. To be honest, it’s given me more confidence, so I will maybe be submitting to [other competitions],” Landin said. “Anyone can be a great writer, but you just need the patience and the time to understand and really put your thoughts into [writing]. It is very hard to convey a message, and it takes a long time to really create the picture.”

By Angela Cao, Staff writer

Photo by Amanda Taing


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