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River Stories

From his home in the hills above the Mississippi River, Erwin Thompson has heard the waters pass. And he listens closely whenever they carry a song, storing it in his memory to share with the next generation.

For more than 90 years, the work of this poet, novelist, fiddler and square dance caller has captured life with a perspective that is rich with human warmth. Whether he's writing love poems to his wife from the battlefields of World War II Europe, chronicling his adventures working for Union Electric, or coming up with songs for the Calhoun County Antique Quilt and Car Show, Thompson shows us the quiet and simple pleasures of living.

His poems, songs and stories provide deep links to the past while telling timeless tales of loss, love, struggle and success.

Bonus Material

Ice in East Saint Louis

The Last Sign of Spring

Our Heritage

System Twenty-four

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Listen to Erwin Thompson as he reads his poem Water Under the Bridge and reflects upon the sometimes bittersweet but inevitable passing of time.


Related Podcasts

Folk/Country Podcast

Music Podcast

Poetry/Lit. Podcast


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Thompson during his days working for the power company. Photo courtesy of Janet Grace Riehl.

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Thompson with his partners in music.. and Miss Calhoun County.

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Erwin Thompson as a young man.


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