The College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters honors creativity, experience and research

October 12, 2018

The annual Writing Awards event promotes and recognizes excellence in undergraduate writing; Emily Podwoiski’s poetry is among the work that will be shared at the Oct. 23 ceremony.

Emily Podowoiski
Emily Podowoiski
Emily Podwoiski is one of the UM-Dearborn students honored at the 2018 Writing Awards.


I know I am pretty and pastel,
but I am not your hollow souvenir.

How could you pick up a seashell
and forget to hold it against your ear?

Emily Podwoiski remembers holding a seashell she admired to her ear as a child. Her mother encouraged her to listen to where it came from. And Podwoiski took the time to do just that.

Journaling since she was in junior high, the summer College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters 2018 graduate has access to many moments in her past. She also recalls more recent experiences — ones in her journal that mention sexist behaviors and objectification.

Over time, Podwoiski shaped those journal entries into the poem “To men who collect shells.”

“Not one person or instance inspired the poem. There were different times in relationships where men flinched at the first sign of female complexity or had expectations of me that I did not have for myself. They did not know me. They didn't understand me. They only saw and cared about my shell,” she said. “Reflecting on these experiences in my journal, I thought of how I admired the shells and how I wanted to be heard.. It felt like the right metaphor for what I wanted to express.”

Podwoiski will read her first place award-winning poetry at this month’s Writing Awards. The awards take place Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Mary Kochoff Auditorium, 1030 CB. A reception starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 7 p.m.

“Students will be honored, and they will present excerpts and discuss the winning work,” said Composition and Rhetoric Lecturer P.F. Potvin, who organizes the annual event. “I'm continually astounded by the range and depth exhibited by the winning work. Through witnessing the winners' live readings and musings, I continually find inspiration for learning, teaching and exploring the greater human condition.”

Winners have been announced in categories including Researched Writing, Creative Non-fiction, Writing in the Public Sphere and Scientific/Technical Writing.

Podwoiski — who submits work to literary journals and works as an Honors Program adviser at Schoolcraft College — said she enjoys hearing various forms of creative expression. She said the Writing Awards is a celebration of the humanities — literature, arts, social science and more — and a place to listen and learn.

“As a writer, your aim isn’t to speak to everyone — otherwise it may come across as forced or cliché. But if you are putting your authentic self into the world, your words may help someone by giving and getting acknowledgement through shared experiences. And there’s comfort in creating that, in helping each other feel understood.”

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