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'They get full creative freedom': Quad-City high school students holding event to preview literary magazine
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'They get full creative freedom': Quad-City high school students holding event to preview literary magazine

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From visual art to poetry to prose, a group of local high school interns at the Midwest Writing Center will read and present pieces of their work to the community Thursday.

The event will be outdoors from 7 to 9 p.m. on the lawn at Rozz Tox, a performance venue and cafe at 2108 3rd Ave., Rock Island. Their Facebook page says to bring a blanket or lawn chair “for an evening of terrific writing and performance from some of the best young talent around.”

The interns who are sharing work at the event have been in MWC’s Young Emerging Writers Program for the months of June and July, where the 17 of them have been working together to create a roughly 100-page literary magazine called “The Atlas.”

“The Atlas” is a combination of visual art, poetry, fiction and nonfiction pieces, which Sarah Elgatain, assistant director of the internship program, said the interns “get full creative freedom with.”

“We want to make sure that they learn and grow into their own voices during this project,” she said.

For the past seven weeks, the group has been meeting virtually three times a week to workshop, write, edit and design their eventual final magazine.

“It was a very unique experience to be with other kids my age who are interested in writing,” said Mia Orris, a 2020 Bettendorf graduate and one of the interns who will share their writing Thursday. “I didn’t even know how much went into making a magazine.”

It has also been a year of development for the program.

“This year we’ve been able to expand our reach a bit,” Elgatian said, referring to the effects of having online meetings instead of in-person ones because of COVID-19. The new format has allowed interns from China, Michigan and Iowa City to all participate in the Rock Island program.

At the event Thursday, some of the interns from outside of the Quad-Cities will log into a livestream to perform their pieces for the event’s audience.

The event is free, and any donations given will go to the Young Emerging Writers Program and other Midwest Writing Center programs.

Food and drink will be available for purchase at a walk-up window. Back copies of “The Atlas” magazine from previous years will also be available for purchase, along with an opportunity to pre-order this year’s edition, which will be officially released on Aug. 19.

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