The Fourth River

A journal of nature and place-based writing, published by Chatham University's MFA in Creative Writing Programs

Essay: “Something that Loves a Wall,” by Margot Anne Kelley

By on June 19, 2016

From The Fourth River, Issue 12


The boundary is that from which something
begins its essential unfolding. — Heidegger

Lengths of the rough, graying wood ring a small paddock that separates two lumbering, gentle horses from the rest of the world. On the rails, Kay points to at least half a dozen distinct colonies of lichen. She names them, the Latin tumbling effortlessly off her tongue—Cladonia cristatella and Cladonia pyxidata, Evernia prunastri, Usnea, Tuckermannopsis, Hypnogymnia phsyodes.

Kay writes the “biodiversity column” for the community newspaper, and has volunteered to teach me and Barbara a bit about lichen. Their proper names mean nothing to me yet, so I cling to their more common counterparts: “British soldiers” are tipped in brilliant red, “old man’s beard” dangles in a wispy, tangled mesh, “pixie cups” rise like tiny golf tees.

As I peer at the patch of Evernia, trying to come up with some trait that will help me give it a name that I can know it by, I hear Barbara telling Kay a mnemonic she learned as a child. “When Freddy Fungus met Alice Algae,” she recites, “they took a lichen to each other.” Read more…


Book Review: Down to the Dark River, Edited by Philip C. Kolin and Jack B. Bedell

By on June 20, 2016

  By Kim Hambright, assistant editor, The Fourth River   The Mississippi River proclaims itself to be “the Father of Rivers,” “the heart of remembrance,” “Mark Twain’s classroom,” “a hideaway for ballads,” and “the darkest place on earth” (Kolin). The


Recap from Table 1020: The Fourth River at AWP

By on April 8, 2016

By Kelly Kepner, Managing Editor, The Fourth River   This year, The Fourth River staff traveled to Los Angeles for the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. Our staff packed suitcases with one hundred copies of Issue 13/Climate


Essay: “Morning Beat,” by Wendy Gist

By on March 23, 2016

  From The Fourth River Issue 10   “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time –                                 like to have a friend takes time.” -Georgia O’Keeffe   North Buttery sunshine spreads