2019-2020 Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award Winner

Rachel Epstein-Shuman

I am a loud and proud voice of the #metoo movement. I transport memories to paper, into non-fiction events and locations as anecdotes to assist those who may not understand the commonality and normalization of rape culture and sexual abuse. Not only do I write for those who may not understand yet, but I also write for those who do; to reaffirm that far away and impossible “person who has been through it too.” I write and speak for those who may not be ready, and for those who cannot be heard. As a 17-year-old–who has been practicing poetry and creative writing since the age of nine–who has been sexually assaulted and witnessed rape culture in my generation, I feel my experiences on paper hold a lens to the still extremely prominent problems that victims face every day. My goal and passion has–for five years and counting–been to bring all generations to terms with the realities of rape culture, and potential solutions like sensitivity trainings in both teachers and students, and a complete remodeling of the judicial system in relation to domestic violence and sexual assault cases. I plan to further my knowledge and understanding of these subjects in future schooling, studying the law, women’s history, and psychology in relation to abuse. I do not plan on leaving this Earth until these changes are made, and sharing my writing is the best place to start. 

Get to know a little more about Rachel and her writing journey!

“However with age, came experience, both in writing and life itself. By my freshman year, my spotlight subject had completely shifted…”read more


Rachel’s Work


“A snowman’s words and pleas are meaningless…”

“There is no more fight or flight, there is only freeze. And freeze I did. Frozen she was when he undressed the snowman, removing its scarf, three dull buttons, twig arms and top hat. Really, what good is a naked snowman? A snowman’s words and pleas are meaningless, because no one can take lips made of chocolate chips from Mom’s sweets jar seriously.” 


“You’re late. But the block is asleep and the mutts are snoring from their guard’s post at the door, and you know you can be as late as you please. Moon is a slice of swiss cheese, and even the strange, undiscovered extraterrestrial critters are burrowing into their craters to catch their zzz’s as Moon completes the night shift. And it’s summer. It’s one of those summer nights where the breeze is just cool enough to slick away any unwanted sweat, and the only sound you can hear is the buzzing of dying street lights and the hum of power lines which zig zag from porch to porch, providing the electricity which in this frozen moment of time, not a single soul needs.” 

First Love 

“And then: Tick. Tick. Tick.”

“Memories left their graves, pushing daisies from their homes, unleashing ghoulish screams in a competition over a dust-ridden spotlight. And she broke. No longer whole. She glanced around for the pieces of her that had just a second ago been on a tight leash, held close and taken for granted, but they had scattered, and hidden behind couches, burying themselves deep beneath mulch in the flowerpots, taking the place of repressed memories. And then: Tick. Tick. Tick.”