“When I say South Bend” and more 574 Stories

“When I say South Bend, I mean my South Bend,” says Lily Francis, a sophomore and young poet. Lily Francis is one of twelve local high school students who were invited to participate in 574 Stories, a five-day intensive creative writing workshop led by the South Bend Community School Corporation at Studio 304 at Main Library. 

574 Stories aimed to empower young writers and share “diverse voices and perspectives.” Participating students studied literature, took field trips to several South Bend landmarks, including Studio 304 at Main Library, and wrote stories about their homes, families, and life in South Bend (South Bend Community School Corporation). Stories from the twelve students were published in an anthology titled, 574 Stories, and students shared their stories at a special reading and celebration at the Brown Community Learning Center in September.

Lily Francis, young poet and author of a few 574 Stories including “When I Say South Bend” shared her powerful story with us on social media. Lily Francis reads,

“When I say South Bend
I mean my South Bend
I mean the Public Schools Unite sign on that front yard
Pride flags and Black Lives Matter
I mean the Mulberry trees that birthe fruit for the summer
I mean the Morning Man on West Washington

When I say South Bend
I mean the geese
And I mean all of them
I mean the Taquería lady on Western Avenue
And the kids down the street screaming across the front lawn in swim trunks
And the white lady in early spring
Looking to see if the seeds she planted
Have grown since then”

These unique perspectives on life in South Bend and several other 574 Stories are available at each of the Library’s branches in South Bend.


  • Garvey, Monica. “High School Students Take Part in New ‘574 Stories’ Project.” HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TAKE PART IN NEW “574 STORIES” PROJECT, June 22, 2022. https://www.sb.school/news/574_stories.
  • “SBCSC High School Students Launch ‘574 Stories’ Anthology with Public Reading and Reception,” September 23, 2022. South Bend Community School Corporation. 

Eerie Imaginings: a writing contest for young authors

Library encourages young authors to enter spooky writing contest

By: Marenda Escobar

What is an eerie imagining? Perhaps a “strange” or “frightening” tale, or a “mysterious” and chilling story. And who doesn’t love spooky stories? In fact, the Library is a fan of eerie imaginings. Each year, young writers are encouraged to submit their own spooky short stories to the Eerie Imaginings Writing Contest.

This spooky writing contest has a story of its own. It all started in 1984 when the earliest eerie imaginings were submitted to the Library’s Western Branch, and from there, the annual short story contest continued for twenty four years. The Library rewarded winners by hosting a ceremony where young authors could read their stories, and sent the winning stories to the South Bend Tribune. After 2008 the Eerie Imaginings contest came to a pause for reasons still mysterious to this day. 

Thankfully this was not the end to all spooky stories. In 2020, twelve years after the hiatus and in the midst of a pandemic, the writing contest was reintroduced. In 2021, the contest continued, and the Library was excited to accept 70 submissions! This year, young authors (grades 3-12) are once again encouraged to submit a terrifying tale (1-5 pages) to delight and fright readers of all ages. The Library will reward winners by hosting a Ceremony on October 28 where winners and runner-ups can share their spooky stories with the community.

Readers interested in these eerie imaginings are in-luck. Three copies of the first Ten Years of Eerie Imaginings: Prize Winning Stories From the Ghost Story Contest of the St. Joseph County Public Library are available at Main Library and North Liberty Branch. Winning entries from 2020 and 2021 are available online as well. 

And now, as this brief history comes to a close, it seems only right to share an excerpt from A Ghost Story by Peggy Donnelly (1985), Grand Prize co-winner for 7th – 8th grade. We hope you will consider submitting a spooky short story, or invite a young writer to do so. 

Eerie Imaginings 2020 grade 3/4 runner-up with prizes

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