The Voices of Rivers

Matthew Dickerson

I am excited by the 2019 release of my book The Voices of Rivers: Reflections on Places Wild and Almost Wild, a collection of narrative non-fiction essays about rivers, trout, wildness, ecology, preservation, and conservation, (with some time spent fly fishing as well.)  The book is available now through the publisher Homebound Publications or through an independent bookstore via IndieBound.) The book is set primarily in Alaska, Montana, and Maine, mostly in national parks and national forests. Black and white photographs of many of my favorite locations appear in the pages of the book.

I wrote some of the book during May of 2018 when I was selected as Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park in Maine. I wrote some during my June 2017 artist residency at Glacier National Park in Montana. (One of the Maine essays also connects readers with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Little Lyford Lodge in their 70,000 Katahdin Ironworks Property.) And another large section was written in Alaska and set in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and other locations in the headwaters of Bristol Bay where I spent time enjoying the wonderful hospitality and guide service of The Farm Lodge and Lake Clark Air. The Alaska portions also bring readers through word and image to Chugach National Forest, Chugach State Park, and along a little Arctic River flowing into the Chukchi Sea.

The book has gotten an enthusiastic initial reception for fly fishers as well as biologists, nature and environmental writers as well as poets and photographeres. Read some of the early endorsements below.

Brown Bear Chasing Sockeye Salmon, Katmai National Park

Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? wrote, “One of America’s greatest (and most threatened) glories is its network of public lands, and in this volume the talented Matthew Dickerson makes the most of them. These landscapes are not the backdrop but the foreground of his lovely essays, that will make you want to travel to these treasures.”  

John Shewey, Editor-in-Chief of the Northwest Fly Fishing magazine group, wrote, “In The Voices of Rivers, Matthew Dickerson wraps his provocative discourse on pressing ecological concerns within a framework of wide-eyed wonder at the beauty and complexity of nature experienced through the eyes and soul of an itinerant angler. Through his captivating storytelling, Dickerson seamlessly translates his personal journeys of discovery into a single poignant cautionary tale about what those of us who value intact ecosystems stand to lose if we don’t remain both intellectually engaged and socially vigilant.”  

Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water noted, “In The Voices of Rivers, Matthew Dickerson obeys Chekhov’s great dictum by rendering the natural world not as a mere backdrop but rather so keenly that the bodies of moving water he traffics as an angler become well-drawn characters in their own right. In Dickerson’s clean prose, they speak with the bedrock and the cobbles, with the author’s beloved salmonids, and–yes–the author himself. In a world radiating with “the virtual,” this book provides unmistakable contact with the actual and a rarefied depth of immersion.”  

Carl Johnson, award-winning Alaskan photographer and author of Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, writes, “When reading Matthew Dickerson’s The Voices of Rivers, I cannot help but think of connections. As I live through his own early-life exposure to rivers, bird sound and fish, I think of my own explorations through the Black Hills as a youth. His later-in-life journeys through the watersheds of Montana, Alaska, and Maine are made through his deep connection to certain species of trout. In doing so, he shows how he has developed a connection to the natural world around him in a way that challenges us to find our own. Not only so that we may be reunited in some way with the natural world, but to see how our behavior as a human species – our often short-sided behavior through development and efforts to “tame” nature – deeply endangers an entire chain of life that ultimately affects us. From creating imbalance to rivers and fish or altering the natural relationship between predator and prey, we have caused imbalance, lost our connections. Matthew’s words help us to realize this, invite us into a world where we are aware and in balance, and give us hope. ”

Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, write “Hiraeth bleeds through Dickerson’s book. Whether in the search for native cutthroat through the writing of Wendell Berry in Glacier National Park; or the quest for Dolly Varden in Alaska, this book is a breath of fresh air…. Like finally learning to whistle through a blade of grass, to read this book is to “stumble on a patch of never-before-noticed wildflowers on a familiar wooded path.” Read it to learn about the solace and beauty of fishing for wild trout and salmon. Read it to learn about how we can re-knit our lands and waters. Read it to better comprehend the greed and selfishness of those that would despoil landscapes such as Bristol Bay, Alaska. Read it. ”