Alison Townsend shapes the memories within this book like the meditative and meandering rivers that inspired them. The Persistence of Rivers evokes the naturalism of Thoreau and Dillard, yet Townsend’s prose remains masterfully singular in its subject, lyricism, and poignancy. Spanning decades from the 1950s to the present, the book considers the impact of rivers at pivotal moments in Townsend’s life, examining issues of landscape, loss, memory, healing, and the search for home.
Alison Townsend is the author of two books of poetry, The Blue Dress: Poems and Prose Poems, and Persephone in America, as well as two poetry chapbooks, And Still the Music, and What the Body Knows. Her writing has received a Pushcart Prize, The Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition Prize, a Wisconsin Literary Arts Grant, and many other awards. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2006 and the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Her essays have appeared in Brevity, Chautauqua, Parabola, The Southern Review, and Zone 3, among others, been listed as notable in Best American Essays 2014, 2015, and 2016, and received special mention in the 2017 Pushcart Prize. Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she lives in the farm country outside Madison.