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Cover art by Julia Klema 

CONFLUENCE: Navigating the Personal & Political on Rivers of the New West

by Zak Podmore




After losing his river-running mother to cancer, author and paddler Zak Podmore disappears into the American West’s iconic canyon country to heal. What he finds is a wilderness infused with personal stories, as well as a landscape strained by political, environmental, and cultural tensions. A trip down the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park leads to a confrontation with US immigration policy. While canoeing down a rare release of water in the Colorado River delta, Podmore questions the economic foundations of Western water management. He reports on uranium tailings near the San Juan River, dam removals on Washington’s Elwha River, and a tourist development in the Grand Canyon. Moving and provocative, CONFLUENCE follows in the tradition of Thoreau or Edward Abbey — it takes us into the wild but always has one eye turned back toward the blessings and ills of civilization.

October 2019 | Nonfiction | 978-1-948814-08-9 | 154 pp | $18.95


"Podmore's essays resemble Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau with an extra dose of social, racial and political analysis."


"Deeply researched and deeply personal . . . Podmore’s grief and his love of the landscape run through the book, lyrical and raw.”


"Podmore’s writing is as personal as it is hard-hitting, leaving an impact with its thoughtfulness and depth of reporting.”

“These essays combine an adventurer’s soul with a philosopher’s head. Kudos to Zak Podmore, a fresh new voice from the West.”
—PHILIP CONNORS, author of A Song for the River

“Zak Podmore has written a book of promise: a promise that beauty matters; a promise that history lives through us; a promise that the Colorado River teaches us about life and death and the depth of both.”


"The publication of Confluence marks the arrival of an important new voice in the West.”

—DAVID GESSNER, author of All the Wild that Remains


“Zak Podmore has unleashed the kind of storytelling that will inspire the next great wave of ecological activism—and not a moment too soon.”  
—AMY IRVINE, author of Desert Cabal

Confluence is a profoundly personal and philosophical look at Western rivers and their value to all souls.”
—ANDY NETTELL, Back of Beyond Books

"An introspective journey that strikes an exquisite, subtle balance between empirical realities and vigorous philosophical questioning."



Zak Podmore is a Utah-based writer, film producer, and editor who covers conservation issues and Utah politics. He is a Report for America fellow at the Salt Lake Tribune, editor-at-large for Canoe & Kayak, and editor of the Canyon Echo: A Journal of Southeast Utah. He has written for Outside, Sierra, High Country News, Four Corners Free Press, High Desert Journal, and the Huffington Post. His films have been selected for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, and the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and his magazine writing won a 2018 Folio Eddie Award.

Author Website

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