Alumni in Focus — January 2019
What are you up to these days? Tell us about your accomplishments since leaving Community School.
A lot has happened – it’s been a while! After high school, I earned my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia with a double major in Poetry and Archeology. I was drawn to both fields and so I wanted the flexibility to explore them after college. After graduating from UVA, the college offered me a position in the Archeology Department, so I spent a year working on a project related to the archeological site Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico. After that, I decided that I wanted to pursue creative writing and poetry more intensely, so I went to the University of Arkansas to earn my MFA. They offered me a teaching assistantship position so I was able to teach writing courses while I was there, and I also ran the Writers in School mentorship program for a year. After finishing graduate school, I moved to Montana, where I have lived now for five years. I have fallen in love with it, and play in and explore its wild places as much as I can. I am currently teaching at Carroll College, a small liberal arts school, and have also taught at Helena Community College, and worked for several years for an environmental non-profit in Helena.
In recent big news, my second published book of poetry is forthcoming. My first book, Sweet Husk, won a small-press prize and was published in 2014. My new book, The River Where You Forgot My Name, was selected for the prestigious Crab Orchard Series in Poetry. It will be out in Fall 2019. If you want to learn more about my creative work or read those books, you can find me at www.corriewilliamson.space
Finally, I was recently awarded the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, a six-month long creative writing residency during which I will be living in a remote, off-the-grid cabin on the Rogue River in Oregon, with a small stipend to write and produce new work. I will begin the residency in Spring 2020.
How do you feel that your time at CS influenced or prepared you for your academic and/or career path going forward?
Community School definitely “spoiled” me, by nurturing me and allowing me to be the wacky, creative kid I really was! I think the most defining aspect of my experience at Community School was the creative agency each student is given. You are taught to be self-directed, and follow your creative impulses, which set me up to be drawn to the creative side of academics, and the experiential philosophy of learning that is a hallmark of the intellectual freedom that Community School emphasizes. Community School taught me that it was okay to demand that things be interesting, that I had the power to recognize what I was interested and engaged in. When I went to UVA and U of Ark, I consistently enrolled in small programs and classes inside of large departments. I wanted to be able to talk to people, to have discussions with my professors, to engage instead of disappear. And now as an instructor myself, I try to embody this same mentality in my own teaching practice and interactions with students.
Do you have any additional reflections or thoughts on Community School?
There are so many teachers who had a formative impact on me that I still remember—Elena Isler and the Bolivian Exchange program, Jennifer Hollingsworth-Austin, Ginny Wooddall-Gainey, Josh Chapman, Bill Hunley. I am also still in touch with some dear CS friends like Kate Thompson, and Morgan Holland, and it’s great to see them striving for new things and doing creative and innovative work too. I’m glad to have such lasting connections from Community School.