Poetry Month 2023: Poetry inspired by seven local rivers


The River Poetry Project began in January 2023 with a collaboration between two nonprofit organizations: MWC and American Rivers. MWC writer-in-residence Sam Olson piloted an exercise in creative place-making with seven classes of seventh grade students at C.S. Porter Middle School in Missoula, MT. Writing residencies at C.S. Porter are made possible by sponsorship from the William H. and Margaret M. Wallace Foundation.

Sam guided students in ekphrastic poetry (poetry inspired by art) — specifically, photographs of seven local rivers. Inspired by rushing torrents, placid pools, swirling eddies, and burbling currents, young poets evoked their free-flowing creativity and produced awe-inspiring interpretations and renditions of these home rivers. To move from individual poetry to collaborative work, each student chose a favorite line from their own poem. Woven together, these lines represent the words of each class and are a testament to the collective power of inspiration.

The students’ work was beautifully laid out by Eileen Chontos and displayed at PureWest Realty in celebration of Poetry Month.