Concerned with our human place in the narrative of the earth, the poems in Corrie Williamson's debut collection SWEET HUSK use archaeology and anthropology to move between the living and the dead and the past and the present.
The poems in SWEET HUSK move between the living and the dead, seeking connection with and through the past, often via the act of digging and excavation. Here, poetry and archaeology reflect one another: what is buried provides insight into—or, conversely, deepens the mystery of—the ways we engage with the world. The poems are full of matter, of things that matter—artifacts and animals—and build on pattern, series, and echoes, that focus on making/remaking from what is broken, dead, unsung, or left behind. We see how strange, small, and lonely our lives are—dwarfed by our place in a vast landscape of both topography and time. We see how little we can know about ourselves, even with dedicated cataloguing and search. Finally, Sweet Husk concerns itself with our human place in the narrative of the earth.
“The measure of Corrie Williamson’s Sweet Husk is an ‘abacus of bone,’ the poet clearly concerned with ‘the earth’s dark draft’ of what goes ‘early to ash.’ But hers is not a narrow view, and the myriad points of view she employs—of archeologist, anthropologist, and poet—are informed by history, science, and poetry itself. Williamson’s is an amazing accomplishment, and I, among many I suspect, will long lean in to listen to the rare old soul that tells me: ‘I buy Ball jars. I root / cellar, I hoard, I shotgun. I’ll bury in the yard.’” — Claudia Emerson
“In her splendid debut, Sweet Husk, Corrie Williamson is multiple in her identities: anthropologist of imagination, archeologist of the heart, naturalist observing the world with acuity and praising it with a dense music (‘thick barbs of pink thistle’). No wonder these poems, like ‘your luminous body will / combust automatically.’ With a deft ear and a sharp eye, Williamson probes the mysteries of this world and they sing under her scrutiny.” — Gregory Orr
“In Sweet Husk, Corrie Williamson plumbs all manner of chthonic, bone-garden tomb/womb/rooms in search of ‘the places that mend us.’ With the gypsy foot of a pilgrim and the palimpsestic, salvaging sensibility of an archaeologist, Williamson is especially attuned to secrets exchanged in our most liminal, littoral, ecotone zones. A husk is an emptied house, but to husk means to reveal something essential. These arresting poems show us the storied ‘worlds within worlds’; each sings beside the grave truths it illuminates.” —Lisa Russ Spaar
Poetry. Women's Studies.
SWEET HUSK, winner of the 2014 Perugia Press Prize and a Finalist for the 2015 Library of Virginia Award for Poetry, is Corrie Williamson's first book. She is also the author of The River Where You Forgot My Name (Crab Orchard Series/Southern Illinois University Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, AGNI, Boulevard, West Branch, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at The University of Arkansas, Carroll College, and Helena College, and worked as a naturalist guide in Yellowstone National Park. In 2020, she spent seven months as the fellow at the PEN Northwest/Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, living and writing in a remote, off-grid cabin in southwestern Oregon.