River of Words

Our free, annual, international youth poetry and art contest — the largest in the world — inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression.

River of Words Celebration | April 17, 2021

Congratulations to our 2021 Winners & Finalists! Please save the date for the upcoming celebration on April 17, 2021 Register Here

Promoting Environmental Literacy through the Arts and Cultural Exchange

River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education.  Acknowledged pioneers in the field of place-based education, River of Words has been inspiring educators and their students for over twenty five years with an innovative blend of science and the arts.

Polar bear in Arctic sea surrounded by ice floats. Glaciers can be seen in the background.River of Words is its own watershed: a linked network of people throughout the United States and the world who are committed to teaching the art and poetry of place to young people. Since 1995, River of Words has encouraged young people to explore and savor the watersheds where they live and trained educators to guide them with inspiration and passion. Through professional development and other educational services, traveling exhibits, publications and community programs, ROW reaches thousands of educators and young people around the world.

ROW was co-founded in 1995 by writer and activist Pamela Michael and then-US Poet Laureate (and SMC alumnus) Robert Hass. One of the program’s most noteworthy events, conducted in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book, is a free, annual international poetry and art contest for children in kindergarten through twelfth grade. ROW, as a program of Saint Mary's College of California, has made its collection of children's art - the largest in the world - available through the Saint Mary's Museum of Art for exhibit and scholarly research. There are many opportunities available for SMC faculty to collaborate with this innovative and dynamic program through the Center for Environmental Literacy. For more information please contact Maureen Esty, River of Words Coordinator of Saint Mary's Center for Environmental Literacy, at rowinfo@stmarys-ca.edu or 925-631-4289.