What is River of Words looking for in art and poetry?

Do you know an artist or poet thinking of submitting to River of Words?

River of Words: The Natural World as Viewed by Young People

The River of Words anthology creates a space to support and magnify the voices of youth poets and artists. Unfortunately, we can't publish all the wonderful artwork and poetry that we receive every year. Since River of Words is dedicated to environmental literacy and seeks to inspire youth to explore their watersheds, submissions should address one's environment, or watershed, in some way.

River of Words is looking for artwork and poetry that...

  • Thoughtfully considers ideas, images and language. Be specific!
  • Shows the reader something. Paint a picture (with paint or with words)!
  • Creates an experience for the reader/viewer: use images that take us on a journey or make us feel something.
  • Has fun: with form, images, textures. Surprise yourself by trying something new!
  • Features a specific aspect, formation, ecosystem, or organism of nature that resonates with you.
  • Exhibits scientific knowledge of a particular subject learned in the classroom.
  • Invites us into your backyard: go outside, what do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel?
  • Shows what no one else sees: a poem or artwork that reveals your own unique observations or personal experiences.
  • Speaks to an awareness of a global community or collective consciousness: a poem or artwork can reflect the experiences of a culture or natural world surrounding you.

Students may want to ask themselves, what do the ideas above mean to me? The answers will be different for everyone, though we hope to give you some idea of what we are looking for. We want students to follow their creativity to its fullest extent by exploring and trying things they have not done before while they create poetry and art of environment and place.

What do these qualities look like in action?

Take a look at the 2020–2021 gallery of previous art winners. We hope it inspires you and your students!

What is River of Words looking for in art and poetry?

Center for Environmental Literacy Fellow, Sarah Ray, shares valuable art and poetry tips for your entries into the ROW contest.

River of Words Art and Poetry Inspiration Guide

Need some inspiration? This is a guide that will help you get started! Included in this packet is:

  1. A short explanation of watersheds
  2. Art and poetry tips
  3. Five different inspiring poetry prompts that are sure to get you out into nature
  4. The ROW prompt guidelines for the annual poetry and art contest

The information in this guide can be used and adapted for children ages 5–19. Teachers, please feel free to use what works best for your class. Happy creating!

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