Written River is a journal published by Hiraeth Press focusing on poetry and non-fiction prose that explores our relationship with nature. The editors of this annual anthology emphasize that it is filled with eco-poetics, or poetry in which the energy of an ecosystem flows through the words. The journal strives to create a written river as it were, and works to “return the voice of the poet to the body of the Earth.” After perusing the pieces included in Issue 10, I’m really proud to have contributed a couple of pieces. The more I write and read the more I realize I have a lot to learn from other writers. There are so many more experiences to be had, so many ways to grow as a writer. Pieces in this publication took me to Baja California and retold indigenous folktales. Inside the journal there were pieces corresponding to ravens and poems explaining the feral dreams of wolves. As usual, I’m humbled by the other contributors.
When I feel like I struggle with my writing I always, without fail, go back to what a friend and mentor told me a couple years ago. Write what you know. When I’m blocked, uninspired, struggling to get something down on page, I can always find material in my experiences and memories. Descriptions come easily when you remember the senses, words, and emotions of a moment. This also allows me to write about things from back home in the U.S. even while living in the Philippines.
The 2016 publication includes my poems “Fences” and “Smoke”. The first piece evolved from an emotional memory I had during a graduate school trip to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Classmates and I attended a meeting of indigenous leaders from both sides of the border as they discussed current issues, successes, and perspectives related to conserving the crown of the continent. One man told a beautiful and heartbreaking story, which after some fermentation in my skull, became the published piece. The second poem, “Smoke”, is in part a tribute to Walt Whitman, but it also acknowledges a beautiful memory I have of hiking to a hot spring in the wilds of Idaho with two beautiful souls. They know who they are.