River River Journal is published twice yearly, featuring poetry, prose, and translations in English, as well as images from contributors around the world. Visit River River Writers Circle on Meetup for our schedule of literary events for writers and readers in the heart of the Hudson Valley. We are a nonprofit, local arts and community organization.
I was surprised to find that a search of the term “hunger” offers up 31 pages of poetry and discussion on poets.org. Skimming the results, I’m reminded that hunger might be a call for social justice from inmates and teachers; it might portray emotional starvation. It’s a frequent word in recent headlines as Covid-19 disrupts supply lines. And I’m also reminded that it can be fed and satisfied.
My dog thinks it’s a chipmunk, and it drives her bonkers. But my uncle used to say it was a copperhead. Might it be a basilisk? Who knows? Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).
In the Northern Hemisphere, September’s full moon marks the harvest season. (Pumpkin spice rises again!) Grand and pervasive as the harvest season is, though, the September moon rises over countless settings more varied and intimate. Imagine the September moon’s-eye view. Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).
The city is different, because yesterday it was just a city, and today it is alive.
N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became
Awareness of belonging to a place, of a person’s inner life being one with the inner life of a place, or a place possessing a soul and a face as distinct as a person’s. Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).
If you prefer to post your work to our blog, visit Submittable after 12pm to upload your work. We will do our best to publish everything we receive.
A note on the prompt
In N.K. Jemisin’s vision for The City We Became, New York City is a singular organism with the boroughs personified by actual, distinct humans with characteristics unique to their respective places. Without giving too much away, the Manhattan is smooth and attractive in appearance, but in constant and tensely controlled psychological chaos. Brooklyn is a striking sort of queen, while Queens is not, but is remarkable in other unexpected ways reflecting New York City’s multi-faceted whole. The Bronx “don’t trust nobody but the Bronx.” And Staten Island is almost too isolated from the rest to feel a sense of belonging.
This is the scientific term for the “bidirectional link” between the mind and the digestion. But you may have experienced other links between the physical and non-physical aspects of life in a human body that go far beyond the brain and the stomach. It can be fun and illuminating to explore this in creative writing.
Visit these links to generate random emotions and body parts. You can just do one random item at a time, or generate a list of, say, 5 emotions and 5 body parts to choose from. (Match bliss with knees, for instance, or love with pinky.) Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).
The farm is a place,
the land is a place to be from,
earth sand, wind,
a buggy spills in the ditch.
The heat of summer,
the slog of fall,
common labor, heft, and haul
wipe the mind in daily routine.
Through the arching limbs of trees,
at night stars, a littler breeze
slopes down the shaded hill
through the kitchen door.
The troubles of man are clearly plain,
too numerous to ignore,
lost from view in the pouring rain
is the sign: kittens.
Save Your Breath
The prompt is like a box of chocolates,
save your breath—
save your breathe to cool the soup
a fox now guards the chicken coup.
A box of chocolates I did not buy
for valentines, I tell you why,
among the choices that seem so sweet
compared to you they can’t compete.
Unexpected, unique, quietly your smile
assured, elegant, content—the calm
of practice, and ready—honors the choices
that make you, you.
I turn over the little stone,
gently lift the creature
living there that waits
my notice, my love
It was started with a meet-up ad,
the writers meet at Johnny Cakes,
a thousand cranes Tedo makes,
now look at all the fun we’ve had.
Sometimes you just want to make something, and that something is made of beads, cardboard, artsy paper, and hot glue. Or sometimes it’s just made of words, thoughts, memories, hopes, and birdsong. The impulse nibbles at you until you do something.
I like this kaleidoscope craft idea, and I’ll probably make one this weekend with my daughter. In the meantime, we could write something about crafting. For today’s prompt use the steps and instructional mode of a craft how-to, and see where that leads you.
Tonight, we are joined by young writers from this summer’s Kaleidoscope Poetry Circle for a celebratory reading. Join us on Zoom at 7pm to listen, encourage, and share your own writing from today’s prompt.
This Friday evening salon takes a break indefinitely after today (waiting out the rest of the pandemic perhaps).