The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) is pleased to announce Rachel Epstein-Shuman as the 2019-2020 Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award winner! As the recipient of this award, Rachel will receive a $3,000 cash prize and feature one of her pieces at the Student Awards 2020 Artist Talk. AHCMC sat down with Rachel to get to know more about her background, interest in writing, and what she sees for her future.
AHCMC: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rachel: My name is Rachel Epstein, I’m 17 years old, and a junior at Albert Einstein High School. I dedicate most of my free time to my activism and writing, in hopes of denormalizing rape culture, and promoting an end to systemic sexual and domestic violence.
AHCMC: When did you begin to take an interest in writing?
Rachel: I began creative writing in the third grade. I’d never given it much thought before, but one day in the fall, our teacher introduced us to poetry. “Write about anything you see,” she said. I had seen a cardinal that afternoon at lunch, and I instantly knew it was my subject. That night there was a call home from my teacher to my mother, telling her how surprised she was by my writing. I knew then that writing would be my forever hobby.
AHCMC: What inspires your work?
Rachel: When I was young, I drew inspiration almost completely from nature. By middle school, my repertoire was bursting with poems about cardinals, willow trees, and salt water. However with age, came experience, both in writing and life itself. By my freshman year, my spotlight subject had completely shifted from nature and earth to sexual violence, inspired then by the powerful women in my family, and the brave survivors I met during my time interning at Break the Cycle.
AHCMC: How will the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Student Award be helpful to you moving forward?
Rachel: I hope to put my award to use in college tuition, to help me further my knowledge and education at a university so that someday I can make the biggest changes possible in the department of women’s rights.
AHCMC: What do you aspire to accomplish in five years?
Rachel: Within the next five years I hope to graduate from one of the universities I dream of attending with an enormous vocabulary, self– control in my use of commas, and enough experience and knowledge under my belt to write for change, and succeed.