a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Rivers are potent symbols and also real and vital places—full of fish and mussels and microbes and runoff and dams. They are rich and complicated, and they connect us.
When we set out to create this issue, the four of us each shared a bit about the rivers and watersheds with whom we live in relationship. We emailed pictures, stories, and histories back and forth. We all came with unique and vivid relationships to rivers and hoped to create an issue of About Place that would capture some of the joy and grief and life these waters carry.
Reader, we’re so full of gratitude to be able to say that the works within this issue create a richer and more complicated understanding of rivers than we could have hoped. There are fiddles, kayaks, crocodiles, illnesses, births, and dandelion greens. Through science, lyric, speculation, translation, and history, the works carry us from the Mississippi to the Ganges to Sitka to the Amazon. There are an unexpected number of angels!
As the issue began to come together, we found certain themes emerging—of bodies, spirits, crossings, and signs. We have grouped the pieces not by genre, but through these categories, hoping that readers might look at the art and poetry and prose not alone, but as tributaries informing and deepening one another. Whether you dip your toes into a section, or immerse yourself fully in its waters, we hope you will see this issue as a flowing and meandering conversation.
Wherever you are, the waters we touch meet and complicate each other. Rivers center us. We hope this issue is a home where our stories can do the same.
–Laura-Gray Street, Teresa Dzieglewicz, Lucien Darjeun Meadows, Irene Vázquez
Teresa Dzieglewicz is a poet, educator, and lover of rivers and prairies. She is a fellow with Black Earth Institute, a Poet-in-Residence at the Chicago Poetry Center, an Associate Editor at RHINO Poetry, and part of the founding team of Mni Wichoni Nakicizin Wounspe (Defenders of the Water School). Her first book of poetry, “Something Small of How to See a River” was selected by Tyehimba Jess for the Dorset Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2023. Her first children’s book, co-written with Kimimila Locke, is forthcoming from Chronicle Books in 2025. She has won a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, the Gingko Prize, the Auburn Witness Prize, and the Palette Poetry Prize and has received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Community of Writers at Tahoe, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and Brooklyn Poets. Teresa lives with her family in Chicago, on Potawatomi land.