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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's go now to this morning's entry in our Poetry Games.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: MORNING EDITION's Poetry Olympics pits poet against poet to compete for your vote. Five poets from around the world have written poems to celebrate the real Olympics and the athletes at the heart of the Games. One of those athletes is from a small town in Mexico.

Maria Espinoza's sport is Taekwondo. She took home the gold at the Beijing Olympics, and she's competing once again in London. For our Poetry Games, Maria Espinoza is being regaled in verse by poet Monica de la Torre. De la Torre wrote her poem, "Olimpicamente," from the athlete's point of view.

MONICA DE LA TORRE: (Reading) "Olimpicamente." It was my feet. They were oversized for my age, restless and strong enough to do more than pick fruit or sell fish. For kicks, in my hometown of 2,000, I tried taekwondo. I was five. The neighbors, they thought of me as marimacha. Women around me were tough, but they were no tomboys.

Dad, a fisherman by trade, was undeterred. He's good at cultivating. He and I, we're driven people, the kind that looks beyond the horizon - westward and eastward in step. Hence we outgrew the dirt roads of La Brecha - The Gap - in Sinaloa. Did I choose the art? Was it the art that chose me?

But for a white uniform, I had the essentials. This was my calling: self-defense for which you needed no arms, only fists - rock solid. And limber limbs and a feistiness not antagonistic. Think dealing blows, so less blows are dealt - aiming to stop the fight, but not destroy your rival, your equal. Where I am from, some folks do things differently. My way's the way of the hand and foot, and unity of purpose. On the tatami, I write their bodily calligraphy.

MONTAGNE: The poem is "Olimpicamente." Representing Mexico, poet Monica de la Torre. Tomorrow, a poet from Slovenia offers an ode to Olympic diver Greg Louganis. You can hear all the poems entered into the MORNING EDITION Poetry Games at npr.org, and vote for your favorite.

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