Tales of the River: An Anthology of River Literature

TTales from the River, 2019 Mulvenna D, Prideaux M (eds), Stormbird Press, Parndanahis collection of river literature compiles both classic and cutting-edge essays of twenty-one writers who draw on their wisdom, compassion, and ecological consciousness to create an original and inspiring collection borne from their unique connection with the natural world.

Tales of the River features original writing by award-winning authors including Anthony Birch, author of Ghost River, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and cutting-edge prose by Kathleen Dean Moore best known for award-winning books about our cultural and spiritual relation to wet, wild places, and fresh new voices from across the globe.

This connection is shared in stories where, being so focused on the complexities of the river ahead makes the rest of the world completely disappear, and the smoke of a driftwood fire floats in air too thick to carry any sound but the rushing of the river. A canoe is tossed aside and rests akimbo with an aspen branch penetrating its hull, white fog flows down a river as if even the air runs to the sea, and an Aboriginal ‘slum kid’ steals a bike so he can visit a river rich in eucalypt trees that ‘old blackfellas’ had used to make bark canoes, scar trees.

Like Eric Sevareid’s Canoeing with the Cree, Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River, and Edward Abbey’s Down the River, the anthology promises glimpses into history, adventure and magic, and reminds us that the crystal-clear rivers of our childhoods are the way rivers are meant to be.

Editors Donna Mulvenna and Margi Prideaux share a passion for wild spaces as portrayed in the anthology’s dramatic range of environmental writing which offers an insight into rivers across the world, reflected by the varied perspectives of field biologists, environmentalists, wilderness guides, academics, writers, and naturalists.

Editors: Donna Mulvenna and Margi Prideaux
Genre: Literary nonfiction
Released: September 1, 2018
Size: 216×140 mm
Pages: 328pp
Format: Paperback and eBook
ISBNs: 978-1-925856-02-6 (pbk) 978-1-925856-03-3 (ebk)

Cover image: Tim Palmer


Tales of the River Press Pack
Tales of the River cover image
Tales of the River social media meme
, with Micheline Jenner  endorsement
Tales of the River social media meme
, with Callum Roberts  endorsement
Tales of the River social media meme
, with Stuart Orr, WWF  endorsement
Tales of the River social media meme
, with Alyson Hagy endorsement

Praise for Tales of the River

The beauty and extraordinary natural nuances of our rivers are wonderfully captured in this book. If we are to preserve and nurture this essential but threatened resource, then our motivation must come from the heart. The richly varied yet delightful chapters in this book are from the heart. The result is a powerful, emotional exhortation to preserve and regenerate this vital nourishing life-source.
—Charles Massy, Call of the Reed-Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth

Rivers are story bearers.  In this volume, memories and murmurs, tragedies and travels, elegies and epics are borne to us on currents of masterful language.  Reading Tales from the River was like sailing the world anew on a vessel built of sheer joy.
—Alyson Hagy, Ghosts of Wyoming and Scribe

Fresh water rivers–elixir of life and our planets very arteries are sadly in dire straits. In “Tales of the River”, 21 essayists evoke the beauty, peace and joy afforded by healthy flowing waters, but as well, demonstrate our global collective need to restore and protect these life-givers.
— Micheline Jenner, The Secret Life of Whales

This wonderful collection reminds us that rivers are far more than just sources of water: they nourish people’s fields and souls, they flow through our cities and our cultures. Protecting and restoring the world’s rivers requires us to value them for all their benefits: this book evokes these benefits and provides a powerful call for a re-evaluation of why rivers matter.
— Stuart Orr, Leader Freshwater Practice, WWF

This beautiful celebration of the life giving power and seasonal pulse of rivers worldwide is timely and important. Rivers are threatened almost everywhere, and their life among the most imperilled of any habitat on Earth. These lyrical vignettes remind us to better appreciate rivers or risk losing much that we would sorely miss.
—Callum Roberts, Ocean of Life: How our Seas are Changing. Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, UK.

This book gathers together stories of people around the world taking the pulse of the planet by enjoying, cherishing and defending waterways. Some explore rivers that still flow far from humanity’s touch; others discover the resilience of the natural world by paddling on stressed urban waterways–but every story reminds us that we need to love our rivers again. It’s a joyous read that will inspire you to plan your own riparian journey.
—Rick Hodges, To Follow Elephants


Donna Mulvenna is a horticulturist, whose journey as a nature writer began when she moved to the Amazon rainforest. Donna is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, and the author of Happiness is Green, Wild Roots—Coming Alive in the French Amazon, and The Awe of Nature. She co-authored All Things Breathe Alike: A Wildlife Anthology, and is the co-editor of Tales of the River: An Anthology of River Literature.

Margi Prideaux is an author and international wildlife negotiator. She has written about wildlife in international politics and law almost every day for the past 27 years. She has four books. Birdsong After the Storm, Global Environmental Governance, Civil Society and Wildlife, co-authored All Things Breathe Alike: A Wildlife Anthology, and is the co-editor of Tales of the River: An Anthology of River Literature.

Chapter Outline

Foreword by Erik Solheim, Executive Secretary UN Environment

Memories of Hockley Lake, Ron Melchiore

Growing Up With Rivers, Tim Palmer
Seven Rivers, Rob Carney

The Wild Atnarko River, Mary Woodbury
Let the River Run, Wes Ferguson
Kayaking Chile’s Pascua River, Diana Saverin
Prodigal River, Rebecca Lawton
Paddling the Sewershed, Brice Particelli
When a River is a Person, Gary Wockner
Catfish Bend, Lisa Knopp
Upo Wetlands to Doyo Islet, Louise Duff

Three Water Stories, Anthony Birch
The Willamette, Kathleen Dean Moore
River of the Past, Conor Mihell
The Loner, James Roberts
Three Rivers, Karen Lloyd
Musical Life, Margi Prideaux

Wilder Rivers, Donna Mulvenna

On the Negro River, José Truda Palazzo, Jr.
Deafened by Nature, Jessica Groenendijk
The Mother River of India, Mariellen Ward

Contributing Authors
Rivers are Imperilled
Stormbird Press