Berkley High student wins first place in poetry competition

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 10, 2017

 Berkley High School student Emily Turner, 18, won first place in the poetry category in the first Kappy Family Anne Frank Art & Writing Competition at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.

Berkley High School student Emily Turner, 18, won first place in the poetry category in the first Kappy Family Anne Frank Art & Writing Competition at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.

Photo provided by Emily Turner

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BERKLEY — A Berkley High School student took first place in a writing competition for a poem that she wrote with inspiration from Anne Frank’s words.

Emily Turner, 18, won first place in the poetry category in the first Kappy Family Anne Frank Art & Writing Competition put on by the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills. The competition’s theme was “The Power of One” and explored the impact that an individual can make. The theme stemmed from Frank’s quote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Turner heard about the contest through her creative writing teacher at school, and this was the first poetry contest she entered.

“I started taking creative writing, and I thought entering contests would, like, I don’t know, expand my writing abilities, because I’m interested in majoring in creative writing when I go to college next year, because I really like writing and I would like to get more things published in the future,” she said.

The future Eastern Michigan University student’s piece is called “The Little Things,” and it tells about a girl who tries to do simple acts of kindness for her peers and the world. She does these things even with others telling her the actions are “pointless” and “useless.” In the end, they prove not to be pointless.

Turner said she thought about the topic and quote for a couple of days before taking two days to write her piece.

“A lot of times when people think of, like, ‘The Power of One,’ they think of people doing huge, heroic acts,” she said. “I just thought of it as on a smaller level: people doing small acts that can have such a huge impact on people.”

One of the judges for the competition was Arthur Horwitz, publisher and executive editor of the Detroit Jewish News. Since it was the first year of the competition, Horwitz — who judged essays, short stories and poems —  said a lot of learning had to be done on how to properly review the work, but that the experience was very rewarding.

“I was floored,” he said of the pieces he read for the competition. “Floored by the thoughtfulness, maturity, creativity (and) power of words — especially in the poems.

“Clearly, there were some that stood out relative to the overall pool, but that being said, there wasn’t one essay, one poem, one short story that I read that I didn’t find myself at the end of the piece saying, ‘What a mature thing to say. What a unique way to look at themselves in terms of how they hope to influence the world.’”

Reading through the pieces, Horwitz said, the names of the authors were not attached to their works, but “The Little Things” was one of the top pieces he scored.

“At the point in time when I read it, it was impactful, meaningful, very consistent with (Turner’s) view through the lens of Anne Frank and the words of Anne Frank,” he said.

Turner said she felt pretty confident when she turned in her work and was hopeful that she would at least get one of the places. She instead took first place, and with that, $250.

“I was very surprised,” she said upon learning that she won first place. “I started screaming and I called my mom and told her.”

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