The Fourth River

Announcing the Winner of The Fourth River Folio Contest!

WINNER:  Confluence Itself, by Marjorie Saiser

Honorable Mention: The Engineer Poems, by Donna Steiner


The winning work will be published as a feature in our fall 2017 digital issue and the author will receive a $500 cash prize!


Judge Natalie Diaz writes:

Confluence Itself is an archive of a life, of a grief. The speaker recalls and images a mother in numerous ways, artifact by artifact, in a catalogue of both absence and affection. She writes:

each drawer and cupboard / we opened and pawed. We were / on a mission, swimming around / inside the sunken ship she left us, / divers wearing tanks, / carrying lights, staying long enough / to ascertain, swimming off, up. This is a grief the speaker “stays long” in, often becoming the mother herself, or a left behind version of her, such as in “Hamburgers, Frying”: she was gorgeous and troubled and not boring. / Some people liked her and I am now // one of them. I stand sometimes, / hands on hips at the window // as she often did, and look toward where I cannot go. //

The often short lines and uneasy breaks create a rhythm at once broken and suspended yet also pushing forward into the new space of the next line. A necessary holding to what came before and what is yet to come. These beautiful minimal elegies show us that what is left behind is not grief alone but also love, a love that is different than the love for the living, a love for those who are gone: a smile in the dark.”

Our thanks to Natalie Diaz and to our staff readers and to all the poets who submitted to the contest. We are grateful to you for your support of The Fourth River!

Watch for Marjorie’s work in the next issue!

Marjorie Saiser5


Marjorie Saiser’s novel-in-poems, LOSING THE RING IN THE RIVER, (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), won the Willa Award. Saiser’s work is found in Poet Lore, Poetry East, Nimrod,, RHINO, Chattahoochee Review,, and at