“Write to the River” project seeks spring submissions


The spring photo prompt was taken at the Pine Bends Scientific and Natural Scenic Area by photographer Tom Reiter.


If you’ve ever wanted to submit a piece of writing for publication but have felt intimidated, now is your chance. The online journal “Write to the River” (WTTR) just opened its spring submission period for poetry and prose inspired by the Mississippi River.

WTTR is coordinated by writer Leslie Thomas and is offered in partnership with Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR). FMR is a local non-profit that engages more than 5,000 people annually as river advocates and protectors.

This is how WTTR works. Each season, one photograph is chosen by a team of writers and river enthusiasts. The image is selected from photos provided by FMR volunteer photographer Tom Reiter. His photos capture different scenes, elements, and activities along the Upper Mississippi River basin throughout the year. The chosen image is offered as a starting point to inspire creative writing, and to showcase the river’s beauty in every season.

A brief caption is given to the image, and the location where it was shot is shared. There are accompanying questions such as what feelings does the image evoke? Does it remind you of a past experience? Can you imagine walking here? What sounds, smells and tastes does the image bring to mind?

The upcoming spring issue will be the 9th guarterly issue of WTTR. “I couldn’t have gotten this off the ground without the help of sue rich, FMR’s director of communications,” Thomas said. “I initially contacted her with a different version of this idea; I imagined a full watershed poetry contest complete with judges.”

Thomas continued, “To provide more options for creative expression, sue suggested we include prose as well as poetry. We discussed a seasonal publication, rather than a one-time contest. Tom Reiter’s splendid photographs of the river and its wild surroundings were added for their power to inspire. I’ve received submissions from people who consider themselves writers—but also from many who don’t. The writing comes from people of all ages and backgrounds. There have been stories from a retired tugboat captain, an essay written by a nurse who lives on a houseboat, poetry and memoir reflecting the many ways that people treasure the Mississippi River.”

Following the snowiest February ever recorded in Minnesota, what does the approach of spring mean to you? With the gorge of the Mighty Mississippi running right through Longfellow, it’s easy to connect with nature in this urban wilderness.

To submit an original piece of prose or poetry, view Tom Reiter’s spring photo prompt at www.fmr.org/writetotheriver/spring2019, or have a look at the river somewhere as it winds its way through the neighborhood. The deadline for Spring 2019 submissions is May 15.


By Jim Larson (St. Paul, MN)

The sun has done its best all day

to turn the ice back to water

but the River won’t have it.

The River knows to rest this time of year;

no tugs, no barges, no kayaks.

The empty trees all have the same idea.

Even the buildings

have their eyes closed.

Time to put this day back with all the others.

Time to gather up a few friends

at a quiet table. Get some talk flowing about

what keeps you warm below the surface.


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