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Giving students a voice

Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Language Arts teacher Andy Wolfe, left, works with Steve Fruhauf while Fruhauf was in the Spartan Spin newspaper class at Superior High School in 2011.

With a trio of poems and a story about a teen exploring her culture, Up North Lit debuted June 1. The brainchild of two Superior High School graduates and their teacher, the online forum seeks to give young writers in the Northland a voice.

"High school kids have so much to say, and sometimes they don't have a place to say it," said Jacob Lindberg, one of the founders of Up North Lit.

The organization is a student showcase and a doorway to the world of publishing.

"We're providing a creative space and introducing them to the professional aspects of this world," said Lindberg, a 2010 alumnus currently working on his master's degree in creative writing at the University of Arkansas. "We have all gone through these publishing processes over the last few years. I definitely did not do it right the first time."

The trio can lead students through it, from creating a cover letter and signing a contract to revising work.

"We want to make the experience as real as possible," said Steve Fruehauf, a 2011 Superior graduate.

In addition to poetry and short stories, Up North Lit accepts photography and artwork submissions from students throughout northwest Wisconsin and northeast Minnesota, with a special emphasis on the Twin Ports.

"My goal is always to give back to the Duluth-Superior area," Lindberg said. "This is the area I write about, I feel indebted to the area."

New student work will be showcased online each month, along with a story featuring a local artist. The debut issue includes poetry by Sunmi Famule, who graduated this spring, and Kayde Moore, a 16-year-old at the school.

Student work will also be collected and printed in a literary journal, the first of which is slated for June 2018.

"We want to have a print journal we can put in the student's hand," Lindberg said. "They can see their work on the page."

Both he and Fruehauf worked on the staff of the Spartan Spin in high school with language arts teacher Andy Wolfe. They've remained friends since graduating, and Lindberg is Wolfe's go-to editor when he writes a column for the Duluth News Tribune.

In March, Lindberg approached Wolfe and Fruehauf about creating Up North Lit.

The teacher was impressed with the inclusion of a printed journal.

"I thought that was the most awesome thing we could do for young people, young writers who wouldn't normally try to get published," Wolfe said. "I look at places young people get published as places for them to get inspired."

It transforms writers, he said, giving them confidence and making them bold.

"I remember the first time I saw my work in a bound serial book," Lindberg said. "I couldn't really believe it. I've be published now a couple times, and that feeling never really wears off."

Holding that published piece brings validation, and the possibility that others are holding it, too.

"As artists, we want our work to be seen," Lindberg said. "As writers, we want our work to be read."

Up North Lit opens that process up to high school students throughout the area.

"I'm really excited to see when Proctor and Northwestern, kids at those school, see this online or hear about," Wolfe said. "I'm excited for it to spread and become bigger than just Superior."

Lindberg is in the process of registering Up North Lit as a non-profit, and Fruehauf is reaching out to local businesses to help fund the published journal.

"It's an opportunity to invest in the community as well as promote a business," Fruehauf said.

Now, they are seeking submissions from students who have something to say.

"Even if you never thought of yourself as a writer, just put something out there and see what happens," Wolfe said. "You will be pleasantly surprised. You'll get feedback."

Visit upnorthlit.org for more information on submitting work, or to read the June pieces.

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