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Welcome to the MWC!

Interested in becoming a member of MWC?  Need to renew your membership?  Now you can use this PayPal link to join or renew to enjoy discounts on our paid programs and workshops, receive a copy of our year-end Writer's Block E-Magazine & other member benefits.  Contact MWC if you have questions about membership. Student and Senior Memberships start at $25, Individual memberships start at $30. Thanks!

MWC Membership Fees


Midwest Writing Center is a 501(c)(3) literary arts non-profit. We offer hundreds of hours of programming every year, serve thousands of writers, readers, and supporters of the written word. We are the only organization of our kind in the Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois region. Many of our programs and opportunities are free, thanks to the generous support of our members and the support of the public. Please consider making a donation to MWC this holiday season via the PayPal link below, so that we may continue to live our mission: "Fostering appreciation of the written word, supporting and educating its creators."

Thank you very much for your consideration & support!


Download a copy of the Writer's Block E-Newsletter &

keep up with all the MWC events & happenings

 Including our new Writer's block feature, The Last Word, where we showcase a single work of poetry or prose by a local author. Sheri Grutz of DeWitt, IA is our first contributor, with her poem "No Love"--check it out!



Thanks to All of Our End-of-the-Year Donors!

Midwest Writing Center sends a huge thank you to everyone who responded so tremendously to our end-of-the-year donation call! Thanks to their generosity, MWC was able to raise $5,215.64 for programs and general operations in 2015. Many thanks to all of the following End-of-the-Year donors:

Barnes & Noble at NorthPark Mall  |  Lynn Barteck  |  Susan K. Collins  |  Dr. Diana Cubbage  |  Mary Foster 
Carol Gloor  |  John & Nancy Hayes  |  Mary Fara Lewis  |  Salvatore Marici  |  Nancy McManus 
Richard & Georgia Miller  |  Laura Swift  |  Lindsey Wheeler

And a special thank you to all of our members, patrons, donors, sponsors, grantors, board members and volunteers who helped to make 2014 a successful year. Happy new year & we look forward to 2015 being another outstanding year of serving readers and writers in our community!  



Collins Poetry Residency -- Open Jan. 1 - April 1

The Midwest Writing Center is currently seeking applications to be the Fall 2015 Collins Poet-in-Residence. The residency supports community-based poetry and a regional poet who has not yet published a full-length poetry collection and who resides in the six-county Quad City area (Rock Island, Henry, Mercer in Illinois; Scott, Clinton, and Muscatine in Iowa). The residency is coordinated by the Midwest Writing Center and will take place between September-November 2015. Applications are being accepted January 1, 2015 through April 1, 2015. Submission is free, and the poet-in-residence will receive a stipend, travel reimbursement, and publication of a limited-edition broadside. For full requirements, program description, and complete submission information, please visit the Collins Poetry Residency page, call 563-324-1410, or email Ryan Collins. The Collins Residency is sponsored by 918studio.


Young Emerging Writers Summer Internship Program
Open Jan. 1 - May 20

The Midwest Writing Center is currently seeking applications for the 10th annual Young Emerging Writers Summer Internship Program. This selective seven-week program is for talented graduating and continuing high school students in the Quad Cities who are passionate about creative writing and/or magazine design, ages 15-19. Students who worked on the school newspaper, school literary magazine or yearbook, or who just love writing or page layout and graphic design, are ideal candidates for YEW. The ultimate goal of the program is the development of intern writing abilities, editorial acumen, professional skills and the production and distribution of a literary journal representing the best work of the participants. For full program/application requirements, complete program description, dates and other information, please visit the Young Emerging Writers page, call 563-324-1410, or email Ryan Collins.


Great River Writers Retreat -- Open Jan. 1 - June 15

The Midwest Writing Center is now accepting applications for the Great River Writers’ Retreat. The retreat will be held September 6th through 12th at the Benet House Retreat Center in Rock Island, Illinois. Applications will be accepted until June 15. The retreat is open to Iowa and Illinois residents writing in any mode/genre. The applications must include a cover page, proof of residency, professional resume, project description, a work sample of no more than 10 pages, and a $15 reading fee. Applications may be submitted online or via mail. The winning applicants will have a public reading of their original work on September 10th at the Midwest Writing Center at 7 p.m. For full requirements, program description, and complete submission information including online submission, please visit the Great River Writers Retreat page, call 563-324-1410, or email Ryan Collins. The Great River Writers Retreat is sponsored by Dr. Nicolas Shammas.


Registration for Iron Pen 2015 is OPEN

The 7th Annual

QC Iron Pen Contest


Contest: February 20-21, 2015

Award Ceremony: February 28, 2015 at 1:00 p.m.

Registration Form: Click Here


Winners Announced - Wed. 2/25/15

Awards Reception & Reading -

Sat. 2/28/15 at MWC, 1 p.m.


 **Everyone that participates in this year's Iron Pen Contest will have a chance at winning a paid-in-full tuition with value of $225 for the David R. Collins Writing Conference
June 25-27, 2015

The Midwest Writing Center's Annual QC Iron Pen 24 Hour Writing Contest is held on February 20 through February 21. Register by 5 p.m. February 20 to enter. Entrants will receive a writing prompt by email and will have 24 hours to write a fiction, non-fiction or poetry piece. Entries will be judged by genre. Winners will receive medals and will have the opportunity to read their winning piece on February 28 at 1 p.m. at the Midwest Writing Center, located in the Bucktown Center of the Arts, at 225 E. Second Street in Davenport. Cost is $10 per entry, pre-registration is required. Registration forms are available here or at the Midwest Writing Center. For more details, email us at mwc@midwestwritingcenter.org or call us at 563-324-1410.

For complete contest information & online registration, please visit the Iron Pen page.

Iron Pen - Contest Registration (per entry)
Number of Categories:
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction:


USA VETS Writer's Studio
February 5th and March 5th from 1 to 3 p.m. at MWC

All Veterans and active Military personnel are invited to participate in this new writers' group meeting the 1st Thursday afternoon of each month starting on February 5th. It's free and all levels of writing skill are welcome. We will start with some basic getting-started lesson and transition into a feedback group with writing exercises and Q&A. The sessions will be led by Jodie Toohey, author of two novels and two poetry collections, who's taught beginning writing workshops and has worked with Veterans.

The group will also be supported by a secret Facebook group to foster discussions between sessions and a blog for group participants and other Veterans/Military personnel to share their work.

Registration is not required and you do not have to attend every month - although a RSVP to 563-324-1410, an email to Ryan Collins at MWC or Jodie Toohey would be appreciated so we can have a rough idea of number for handout printing. Please call or email either address with any questions.


MWC/Kittan District Venture Crew Informational Meeting -- Thursday, Feb. 19 @ MWC, 6:30 p.m.

Are you interested in Creative Writing? Are you between the ages of 14-20? The Midwest Writing Center invites you to an open house to learn more about their new Creative Writing Venture Crew. Discover more about creative writing from published local authors, meet other young writers, get inspired, and have fun!

This informational meeting is free & open to the public. For more information email the MWC or contact Ian Scott with the Kittan Council/Illowa Council at 563-349-8053


SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series Returns
to Rozz-Tox Thursday 2/12 at 8pm

for the 3rd Annual Local Lovers Open Mic!


New Location for OUT LOUD Open Mic Nights!


OUT LOUD will now be the last Thursday of the month 7pm at Theo's Java Club in downtown Rock Island
213 17th St. Rock Island, IL 61201
Jan. 29th  |  Feb. 26th  |  March 26th

Free & Open to the Public



winner of the 2013 Susan K. Collins/Mississippi

Valley Chapbook Contest, is Now Available!



We are thrilled to have Caroline Crew's terrific chapbook, THE POLYCHROME CLINIC, in stock & available for purchase! We could not be more thrilled with how this chapbook turned out.

From now through Tuesday, September 9, all orders for THE POLYCHROME CLINIC will receive free shipping! Order online using the PayPal link below, or call MWC to place your order today!

Caroline Crew edits ILK journal. Her poems have appeared in Bat City Review, PANK, Cream City Review, and Salt Hill Journal, among others. She is the author of several chapbooks, including CAROLINE, WHO WILL YOU PRAY TO NOW THAT YOU ARE DEAD (Coconut Books, forthcoming 2015) and, with Chris Emslie, Your Stupid Fortune Gives Me Stupid Hope (Furniture Press Books, forthcoming 2015). Her full-length collection, PLASTIC SONNETS, will be out from Big Lucks in 2015. Currently, she lives between Old England and New England.



Quantity - Polychrome


Get your copy of THE ATLAS, Vol. 9 today

The best issue yet.

Get yours today before they sell out.

Created, arranged ,and edited by the 2014 Young Emerging Writers and Skylar Alexander.


Buy a copy of THE ATLAS, Vol. 9 using the PayPal link below



Midwest Writing Center Establishes New Endowment Fund for Youth Programming


         The Midwest Writing Center (MWC) has established a new endowment fund specifically to support its current and future youth programs: The Midwest Writing Center Tim Curry Endowment for Youth Programming.  The fund was named for and established using memorials honoring Tim Curry, beloved former Moline High School English teacher and developer of the Young Emerging Writers Summer Internship Program (YEW) at the Midwest Writing Center. 

         The endowment is established at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend (CFGRB). MWC’s goal is for the fund to provide annual support for youth writing programs such as YEW, the YEW Middle School Day Camp, and the David R. Collins Children’s Literature Festival, in addition to other youth programs MWC plans to develop in the future.  

         Contributions to the Fund may be made by sending a check, payable to the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, to:

Community Foundation of the Great River Bend
ATTN: MWC Tim Curry Endowment for Youth Writing Programs
852 Middle Road, Suite 100
Bettendorf, IA 52722 

         Online donations can be made on the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend’s website.  Gifts from Iowa taxpayers may be eligible for the Endow Iowa Tax Credit.

         For more information about this or about MWC’s general Endowment Fund, or including this endowment fund as a beneficiary in an estate plan, please contact Barb Melbourne, CFGRB Vice President of Development, at 563-326-2840 or barbaramelboune@cfgrb.org.



Announcing the winner of the 2013 Susan K. Collins /

Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest…



Our esteemed judge, Gale Thompson, has selected The Polychrome Clinic by Caroline Crew as the winner of the 2013 Susan K. Collins/Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Contest.  Congratulations Caroline!

We had a terrific group of manuscripts to read and it was wonderfully difficult to select a group of finalists to send to our judge.  Here is the list of finalists: 

Rachel J. Bennett — Mural Quadrant

Erin M. Bertram — The Salvaging

Jaime Brunton – Opera on TV

Caroline Crew & Chris Emslie — Your Stupid Fortune Gives Me Stupid Hope

T. M. De Vos – Finishing

Iris Jamahl Dunkle — 500 Days

Diane LeBlanc — Sudden Geography

Lesley Ann Wheeler – Misery Diaries


We are hoping that The Polychrome Clinic will be available later this spring and we will be sending copies out as soon as we have them.

Thanks to everyone who participated, to all of our readers, to our finalists, to our terrific judge Gale Thompson, and congratulations to Caroline Crew!

Click here for details on the 2014 Chapbook Contest--open through September 30th!



The 7th Annual

QC Iron Pen Contest



The Fastest Writing Contest Around!








MWC reached our endowment goal!

MWC received a $5,000 match from the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend!


Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to the endowment challenge:


Anonymous Donor | Leah Christensen | Susan & Ryan Collins | Pat Crozier   

Mr. & Mrs. Mark Davidsaver | Craig Dahms | Shea Doyle & Hannah Morrell

Exotic Imports | Mary Foster | Carol Gloor | James & Carol Horstmann   

Mr. & Mrs. Steven Lackey | Mary Lewis | Mr. & Mrs. Thomas McKay   

Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Meehan | Steve & Barb Melbourne

Mr. & Mrs. Richard Miller | Max Molleston | Rochelle Murray | Dr. Trisha Nelson

Mr. & Mrs. Mark Petersen | Larry Riney | Thomas Spitzfaden | Jodie Toohey   

Jane VanVooren Rogers | Lindsey Wheeler | Jill & Dale Whiteside   

Announcing the Winners of the 40th Annual Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest!


 (Selected by Lisa Zimmerman)
1st Place: "The Widd'er Woman" – Jessica Glover
2nd Place: "For wrapping trees in cellophane" – Xan Roberti
3rd Place: "Novena for the Nameless" – Kelly Lynn

Honorable Mention:
"Phoenix" – James K. Zimmerman
"Doing the Dishes, 1966" – Julia Meylor Simpson

Finalists (all finalist poems will appear in Off Channel) 
“A Father’s Favor” – Leland James
“Pictured You Again” – E.P. Schultz
“From My Grandfather’s Journal: June” – Susan Brown Norris
“Poetic Alchemy” – Gayle Rein
“Spinster” – Constance Snyder
“Wild hearts” – Nancy Schaefer
“Last Present: for My Daughter, Alex” – Nan Trahan
“Nothing Sacred” – Jessica Glover
“The museum of truth to you” – Xan Roberti
“Vengeance” – Nancy Cook
“Relation” – Salvatore Marici
“shark’s teeth” – Kerry Rawlinson
“fear of falling” – Kerry Rawlinson

Selected by Laura Madeline Wiseman

1ST Place: “On Stieglit’s Gable and Apples” – Beth McDermott
2nd Place: “Will” – Beth McDermott
3rd Place: “Cow blessing” – Nancy Schaefer

Finalists (all finalist poems will appear in Off Channel)
“Gather at the river” – Betty Benner
“Colliding Spheres” – Gayle Rein
“Build a bridge” – Gayle Rein
“Everything is Burning at the Wayside Stop” – Tony Ledtje
“Winneshiek Homecoming” – Tony Ledtje
“Sea Wrack” – Timothy Walsh
“Threshing Day” – Ellen Kelley
“Garden Musings” – Ellen Kelley
“Connected with Her Own Skin” – Nan Trahan
“Bee Charmer” – Kelly Lynn
“Blood Memory” – Nancy Cook
“Why Some Things Never Hatch” – Nancy Cook
“Fate of a Sicilian Orange” – Salvatore Marici
“The Verdigris Wind Vane” – Salvatore Marici

Selected by Richard Stahl

Winner: “Fireworks” – Therese Guise

Finalists (all finalist poems will appear in Off Channel)
“Cedar Road” – Beth McDermott
“Reorienting” – Nancy Cook
“Foreclosure” – Nancy Schaefer
“Behind the museum at Sibley Park Zoo, Mankato, Minnesota” - Betty Benner
“Miracle at the Main Street Tap” – Jean Tucker
“Rutherford County” – Jean Tucker


Congrats to all of the winners, honorable mentions, and finalists!






Join us for Out Loud Open Mic Nights at their new location:

Theo's Java Club in Downtown Rock Island




The new Out Loud Anthology VI is available now -- use the PayPal link below to order your copy today!


Number of Copies




Congratulations to Dr. Robin Throne--

winner of the 2013 David R. Collins Literary Achievement Award


Dr. Robin Throne has made many significant contributions to writers in the Quad Cities area and the Midwest Writing Center in addition to her talents as a writer,

an editor and an educator. In her nomination letter, Dr. Nancy Schaefer had this to say about Dr. Throne:

"Dr. Throne is a founding member of the LeClaire writing group in Iowa...She is a published author in her own right, producing a chapbook of poetry, two novels and an academic monograph, among other things...beyond her own work she generously mentors and supports local writers and poets; she started and operates her own small independent press, 918studio, publishing and showcasing the writing of others.

Moreover, Dr. Throne has been a steadfast supporter of the Center...Over the years, she has continued to contribute to the life of the Center in various ways, serving on the Program and Advancement Committees, and briefly on the Board. She started the Mississippi Valley Chapbook contest, the Great River Writers' Retreat, the Collins' Poetry Residency, and served as a past mentor for the residency. She started up online classes, formatted a poetry book and The Atlas, and for a time even blogged for MWC too. In September 2012, she served as the docent for the first day retreat.

Her influence and support extends beyond the Quad Cities as well. A working academic, she advises dissertations for North Central University in Arizona and also acts as the faculty advisor this semester for the Scott Community College student newspaper."

Follow the link to read more about Dr. Throne in the Moline Dispatch

Congratulations Dr. Throne!  The MWC & the QC writing community are grateful for all you do!


Thanks to all of our sponsors of the 2013 Literary Awards Banquet:


The Dispatch-Argus

Exotic Imports

Scott County Regional Authority





The 5th Annual

QC Iron Pen Contest



Award Ceremony: February 23, 2pm @ the MWC


Here are the winners of the 2013 Iron Pen Contest by category:

Adult Fiction                                          Adult Nonfiction                              Adult Poetry
1. Mary Davidsaver                               1. Frank Claudy                               1. Mike Bayles
2. Ashley Allen                                       2. Tom Miller                                   2. Bill Hudson
3. Daniel Horne                                    3. C. Bruce Moore                            3. Steve "Lanny" Biehler
Hon. Mention – Connie Wilson             Hon. Mention – Steve Robinson

                                                          Youth Poetry -- 1. Brooke Wiese                Youth Fiction -- 1. Andy Pavey

Congratulations to all of our winners & thanks to all who participated! 




Memorials for Timothy J. Curry, creator of the Young Emerging Writers Program


   Timothy J. Curry, master teacher and creator of the Young Emerging Writers Internship program, passed away at his home in Evanston, IL on October 10, 2012.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend, who inspired a love for literature and writing in so thousands of young people over nearly four decades.  We are honored to continue his legacy with the Young Emerging Writers program for many years to come. 


Read more about Mr. Curry's impact on his students in this wonderful tribute written by Felicia Schneiderhan.  Memorials for Timothy J. Curry can be made to the Young Emerging Writers Internship Program c/o the Midwest Writing Center.  Our dearest gratitude to his family for including Young Emerging Writers in his memorial.   







            New Releases from MWC Press: 

(click on the titles below for more information on how to buy one of the chapbooks)

The Canopy by Sandra Marchetti Regional Winner of the 2011 Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Contest.

Call it A Window by Monica Wendel National Winner of the 2011 Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest.

Black as Caviar by Menno Wigman, translated from the Dutch by Dr. Stephen Frech.

Click on the titles for more information and to purchase.


MWC needs YOU!

Please consider volunteering! It only takes as much time as you can give; you choose your schedule and your job. Click here for more information!



Want to help but not sure how?

How about sponsoring a workshop? All it takes to put on a two hour workshop is $100. You can help decide what kind of workshop it will be and have  your name associated with it. It can be a free workshop or MWC can charge and keep the proceeds, potentially doubling (or more) the impact of your donation. Interested? Email us at mwc@midwestwritingcenter.org.



Bix Beiderbecke: Jazz Age Genius Now for Sale Online!

A brand new, republished edition of Bix Beiderbecke: Jazz Age Genius by David R. Collins is now for sale on the MWC bookstore!  Check it out!



Midwest Writing Center's Premise Statement

The Midwest Writing Center's goal is to help writers develop their craft, find audiences and establish a writing community where they can learn and grow in a supportive environment. Through public readings, workshops, critique groups, contests, publications and partnerships, the Center enriches the community with its emphasis on literary arts and education.


In the past two years we have worked with a consultant provided by the Iowa Cultural Trust Sustainability Grant to develop a new funding and marketing plans. In the course of this work we developed a premise statement which is the ultimate vision of the Midwest Writing Center.



**On September 8, 2011 the Midwest Writing Center Board of Directors adopted the

Iowa Principles and Practices for Charitable Non Profit Excellence.




The creation and design of this website was made possible by a grant from the Riverboat Development Authority.

All programs are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


Copyright 2001-2011 Midwest Writing Center