Emily Pittinos: Spinning Yarns

Teresa Mathew/Daily
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For the Daily
Published March 20, 2012

While most students kill time on Facebook or do homework in their rooms in the residence halls, LSA sophomore Emily Pittinos writes award-winning poetry and fiction, and makes unique art out of the yarn she spins in her room in the Residential College in East Quad Residence Hall.

Pittinos has won seven different awards and fellowships associated with the prestigious Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood awards program. This January, Pittinos won more than $7,000 in the Hopwood Underclassmen Contest for her fiction and poetry.

As a Hopwood winner, Pittinos joins the ranks of countless successful writers to graduate from the University, including Frank O’Hara and Arthur Miller.

Despite her success at the University, a part of her did not want to become a Wolverine.

“My parents … had this idea of what my life would be,” Pittinos said. “They wanted me to go to Interlochen Arts Academy for creative writing … and then they wanted me to go here. At first I was really unsure about that. It’s weird to have someone have a plan for you. The natural thing is to want to go against that.”

Yet after entering her freshman year, Pittinos, like many other students, found a refreshing amount of freedom in her decisions and access to new experiences.

“Coming here was great because there is so much opportunity to experience new things,” Pittinos said. “I’m doing things I never thought I would do.”

The theme of hard work is an important element of Pittinos’ life, her poetry and the art she creates. One of her more notable pieces is titled “The Long Thought,” in which she explored the aspect of work in a person’s life and the self-reflection that can be achieved in the process.

“There is this phrase that ‘work is love made visible,’ ” Pittinos said. “Hard work leads you to thinking the long thought, which allows you to get to a deep emotional place. People do hard work in their lives to show that they care.”

Pittinos describes writing as her passion, but understands that at times her writing will feel like hard labor.

“A lot of the things you love to do can be really hard,” Pittinos said. “Sometimes I have to force myself to start because starting anything is hard. But I feel like I have been writing my whole life, and it has become such a part of me, that I can’t not do it.”

To escape the process of writing from time to time, Pittinos resorts to the spinning wheel in her room to make yarn. The process of transforming wool to yarn has become another new experience she is glad to have found at the University.

And while she is still exploring the many new paths ahead of her, Pittinos maintains that writing will always be a critical part of her life.

“Really I’m primarily a poet,” Pittinos said. “I always have been. Whether I end up teaching poetry, which is something I would really love to do, or if I’m like, a shepherd.”