By Mia Timlin
As the screaming voices of screens, social media and technology get louder and louder, it’s becoming more important teenagers find those carved-away spaces where imaginative development takes place. When it comes to teenagers, more often than not, productivity just for the purpose of creating is widely disregarded. The message that it’s not only okay, but also necessary to put effort and time into something that might not result in payment, grades, recognition or some kind of tangible reward is one that is blatantly absent in some of the most formative environments. An end goal of adding something beautiful, meaningful or enjoyable to one’s life no longer appears to be enough incentive for many teenagers to discover and grow the artistic skills they possess. Without the encouragement and leadership of established and accomplished artists, writers and creators of a community, what will ensure these incredibly important, yet often overlooked, forms of storytelling, informing and expression will not wither when passed along to a new generation?
The Here. Literary Magazine, a rustmedia project, exists to show teens their art is as relevant as ever, and their voices are severely needed. It is a resource ready to give teenagers the chance to put their voices out into their community and share the things they’ve been thinking, making and feeling. Surroundings play a huge role in the work of artists — Here. Literary Magazine is a chance for students to show how the place they grew up shaped and influenced them.
“This area of Missouri definitely impacted how I wrote my poem just because it’s where we live,” says Adeline Haupt, a junior at Saxony Lutheran High School who submitted a poem she wrote to be considered for publication in Here. “I feel that if I didn’t live where I live, I may not have worded the poem like I did. My sister and I love to go hiking and ended up talking about the old trees that are in the woods, particularly an old walnut tree that has been there as long as we can remember. We just thought of what the trees would tell us if they could.”
While publishing the art and writing of local high school students, Here. Literary Magazine also presents a group of teenage applicants the opportunity to explore turning passion for an art form into a career through its Writing and Art Student Editorial Boards. By attending a series of monthly workshops, the members of the Here. editorial boards learn about the editorial process, analyze and critique student writing and art submissions, and glean instruction from workshop leaders who are working artists and writers in the Cape Girardeau community. The professional artists leading the workshops offer exercises meant to strengthen creative skills as well as insights into the career options open to students wanting to enter into the professional fields that utilize these skills.
“I think it’s always a good opportunity for the community to hear from our teens who are living and working here,” says Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, professor of multimedia journalism at Southeast Missouri State University and member of the Here. Professional Advisory Board who led a journalism workshop for the Here. students in January. “Here. is going to give our students that community voice that they’ve been missing, and I am excited to see how their ideas are received. I think that it’s important that we teach them how to express themselves fully and responsibly.”
One of the most valuable contributions the Here. magazine and editorial boards offer is the connection they draw between members. To meet with and learn from peers with a common interest is an invaluable experience and an incredible opportunity for growth for young people considering a future working in a writing or art-related field. These meetings bring students who have a shared passion for telling stories and spreading messages through their creations together and foster an experience of learning from one another’s ideas, insights and opinions that is difficult to find or replicate in other programs and activities.
Members of the boards meet each month to evaluate submissions from local teenage artists who want their work in the literary magazine, decide what will be published, and put their writing and art into practice. The 2020-2021 student editorial boards include 16 students in grades 8-12 from Charleston High School, Cape Central High School, Notre Dame Regional High School, Saxony Lutheran High School, Jackson High School and Oak Ridge High School. Bringing together the differences and similarities of the smaller communities scattered throughout Southeast Missouri, students are given the chance to meet peers in their region they may not have crossed paths with otherwise.
“I’ve enjoyed the writing editorial board as it has allowed me to meet many other writers and expand my own writing as I learn new styles and go over other people’s work,” says Anya Spurgeon, a junior at Jackson High School who is a member of the Here. Writing and Art Editorial Boards. “It’s really interesting to see just how many different ways to write there are. It’s allowed me to expand my own writing style, and while I’m not quite perfect at them yet, my style is evolving into something much better than before.”
These types of relationships reinforce in teens the idea that what they and others their age can contribute creatively to their community is vital. Programs like Here. Literary Magazine give young people a voice and a platform. In a place that, like any other community, needs the questions, concerns and thoughts of the youth, the Here. Magazine and editorial boards fill a void. Young people will be responsible for the narrative of their generation, and there’s no reason anyone should wait to start writing it. Teens possess the skills and insights needed to write the important stories, they just need to find the space where they can cultivate them. Here. helps shine a light on each individual’s potential and is paving a way for young voices to break through in the community of Southeast Missouri.
Mia Timlin is a junior at Notre Dame Regional High School and a member of the Here. Writing and Art Student Editorial Boards.
“As soon as my teacher spoke to me about the Here. editorial board, I knew it was something right up my alley. I wanted to strengthen my writing abilities and learn more about the industry before I decide to base my entire career around it. I have learned so many valuable things. I come home from every meeting with pages and pages of notes.”
— Maddox Murphy, Senior at Saxony Lutheran High School
“I applied for the Here. editorial board because my English teacher suggested I should, and I was so excited at the prospect of getting to meet people who all shared similar interests and talents as me. I want to be a writer because I’m good at it, and I’ve always loved expressing my feelings with pen and paper. I also love writing about the world around me so that others can see from my perspective.”
— Greta Ripperda, Senior at Notre Dame Regional High School
“One of the most valuable things I have learned with the Here. Magazine is the vast amounts of careers you can have with writing and the many resources available. I never was sure what I wanted to do with writing, but I always knew I wanted to write. Now, with the opportunity of Here. Magazine, I have been introduced to many different writing paths I can go down, helping me further understand what direction I want to take my compositions in.”
— Rebecca Baugh, Junior at Jackson Senior High School
Interested in having your work in the Here. Literary Magazine or inviting a writer or artist into your high school classroom to lead a workshop? Learn more about Here. literary magazine and the Here. Writers + Artists in the Schools program, as well as submit your art and writing, at herelit.com.