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September 29, 2023

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Prairie Margins publishes literary art from undergraduates

For junior and creative writing major Philip Sterwerf, getting his poem published in the literary journal Prairie Margins was a big deal.

“It’s a poem that I wrote in class and I thought it was one of my best pieces,” Sterwerf said. “It’s a good stepping stone to be a professional writer because it gets writers prepared for other ways to get accepted in the [field].”

After more than 50 years as a literary magazine at the University, Prairie Margins publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and even plays. The journal gets published once a year where funding is provided by the Student Budget Committee and from advertising.

Editor-In-Chief Rachel Gast has been on staff for the literary magazine for several years and said they will take anything submitted by aspiring writers, as long as it has an actual value to the journal.

“There are certain rules, grammar rules, spelling rules, that have to be followed and if the story doesn’t make any narrative sense it still has to speak to us on some level,” Gast said. “It has to be good quality work even though it’s by undergrads.”

Graduate Co-Chair of The Student Budget Committee [SBC] Rachel Robinson said out of all of the requests the committee obtains, only 30 percent of them end up obtaining funding. Members of SBC decided to provide funding for the literary journal because of how much it has an advantage on students.

“We look for in our decision how impactful the event or project is going to be for the students on campus,” Robinson said. “This is one of those groups we know that it’s going to impact the community here in BG in a productive way. It’s going to enhance [the University’s] reputation.”

Although a few submissions are turned down, only college undergraduates are eligible to have their work published in the magazine.

Gast said Prairie Margins does not accept work by graduate students or professional writers because the members of the journal want to get newer writers a chance to be published with other writers nationwide.

After being turned down once before for a piece Sterwerf tried to get published in the journal, the rejection only made him try harder in his writing.

“That’s one of the things about them is when you’re in a writing field you’re destined to have people decline your work but it got me ready,” Sterwerf said. “It still means that people are reading your work and I didn’t feel bad at all.”

For those interested in being a part of Prairie Margins, members of the journal host meetings every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of East Hall.

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