Here at River Teeth, we love essays. We love reading essays, choosing essays, and writing essays. We love essays that feel urgent, essays we can’t put down, and essays that don’t turn away when the truth gets difficult or slippery.

We also like to think about how the best essays work—and that’s why we’re starting a new online feature: River Teeth Revisited. Guest writers will choose essays they love from the River Teeth or Beautiful Things archives, think about particular elements and strategies the writers use to transform real life into essays that speak to the core of the human experience, and provide the gift of a writing prompt at the end.

River Teeth Revisited is a celebration of the essay and, we hope, a jumping-off point for readers and writers, teachers and students, anyone who has something to say and wants a place to begin. Remember that if you have access to the ProjectMuse database, you can find every essay River Teeth published since Fall 2003 in free, downloadable pdfs.

The idea for River Teeth Revisited was born before COVID-19, but of course we’re aware that we’re launching our first posts in the midst of a pandemic, in a time when the whole world has lurched on its axis. Nothing is the same as it was before and we know we won’t be the same when the worst is over and we step cautiously out our front doors again, blinking into the sun.

As I told my creative nonfiction writing students on the last day we were together physically, before we headed home and began our new online-learning lives: “This is what we do. We observe and take notes. We watch closely for the patterns and connections that will help us to find meaning in a world that often doesn’t make sense. We think about what it means to be human. We’ve been training for this. We’ve got this.”

Enjoy—and be safe,

Jill Christman
Senior Editor
Photo of Senior Editor, Jill Christman

Check with your library to find out if you have an institutional subscription to Project Muse, and thus, River Teeth’s archives.

River Teeth Revisited Collection

Black and white photo of church buildings with scaffolding

Outline as Structure: Scaffolding in a “Dark Barn”

By Micah Gjeltema
"When telling a true story, the “worldbuilding” is predetermined—the world of the essay is you, the writer, and all that you know. The context is as vast as experience, and the scope of the real resists containment. How can it possibly be shaped?"

“Terrible Sanity” and the Art of Narrative

by Jake Demers
"In “Terrible Sanity” (20.2), Sam Pickering wanders through his own life, lamenting the present and celebrating the past. At once dismissive of sentimentality and profoundly personal, the essay stands as both an ode to education and a yearning for simpler times."

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