The River Where You Forgot My Name

The River Where You Forgot My Name was selected by Allison Joseph as a winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry’s 2018 Open Competition. With an official publication date of October 7th, 2019, you can pre-order the book from Southern Illinois University Press, here. To order a copy directly from the author, when available, or request a signed copy, email Corrie at



The structure of this brilliant book of poems is complex in the same many ways that individual lives are, that particular places are, or that history is. What do thousands of snow geese perishing in the toxic waters of the Berkeley Pit and Julia Hancock Clark teaching her son Meriwether to play piano at the edge of the wilderness have to do with one another?  They have been routed through the vision and imagination and verbal ingenuity of Corrie Williamson, wherein they became her remarkable art. —Robert Wrigley

Some poems are meant to be devoured, others savored. Corrie Williamson’s The River Where You Forgot My Name contains the latter. There is something private in these carefully wrought poems, by which I do not mean confession but intimacy. We sit within a small circle of light, a room at dusk, and listen to Williamson’s unhurried voice as it tells us, “Hush now, all will be revealed.” Which is how we must dwell on this earth, too—with patience and a sense of time’s great arc and return. I’m grateful for the echoing music made in the space between the present and the past, and grateful, too, that Williamson is the one making it. —Keetje Kuipers

We have to imagine we belong to a place, a geography whose history includes us.  We must also live in the present knowing we are always bound to our human history, as complex as beautiful and as tragic as it may be.  Girded with such knowledge, we live with greater purpose in the here and now and may, in fact, begin to imagine our future that we may work to preserve it.  These are a few of the larger notions this fine book prompts, but the broad strokes here are stippled with the intimacy of natural detail and the human passion that springs from it.  The result is a rich and absorbing book of poetry. —Maurice Manning

“For what stirrings/ am I attuned,” asks Corrie Williamson in this potent, questing second collection of poems. And of course the particular lens of each poet allows us, as readers, new views into our histories — personally, geographically, culturally, and through the shifting lens of time.  Here, it is the question of the West, Montana in particular, that thrums in these sound-rich poems. Williamson’s West is a newcomer’s west, full of wonder and disappointment, one informed by her own journey from the east and also other historic journeys, particularly those of Lewis and Clark (and, even more importantly, Clark’s wife, Julia Hancock, who she uses as a foil). As she says, “Trace is / another word / for trail,” and Williamson journeys with a meticulous eye and mind equally curious and critical.  Her West is a “tomb where we bury alive the ebbing babble of the wild,” however Williamson also shows us just how wild the world still is, despite the losses we all know. How weird. How beautifully unknown. From bacteria that is “forging of waste its version of spring” in the tailing pits of old mines; to a unicorn taken carelessly, good for meat; to the glories of the comealong, that most miraculous of tools which lets us heft impossible weights — somewhat like a poem in Williamson’s skilled hands. — Elizabeth Bradfield