This issue of Willow Springs combines accessible poetry, flash fiction, and a couple great interviews into one volume. I think the tea cup on the cover is symbolic: one could sit down with this journal and tea and finish them both at the same time. Maybe this is a little bit of an exaggeration – the tea might be cold at the end of the volume – but these great poems and stories fly by, one after another.
Denver Butson writes the poem “our names” about the obsession of seeing one’s name written on anything, since it gives us a sense of our own significance, however false the correlation may be. Dan Pinkerton’s four poems are quirky and funny. For example, in “The Baby Is Reading Nietzsche Again,” he writes, “Isn’t that the way with one-year-olds? [. . .] he’s obsessed with toddling towards the forbidden: the Bach concertos, the Tolstoy and Satre, the single-malt scotch.”
The flash fiction pieces are fine, although none I thought necessarily notable, but the one full-length story and winner of “The George Garrett Fiction Award” is marvelous. In “Berry Picking,” Karen is picking berries in the Alaskan Tundra while debating with herself whether to leave her husband, John-John. Barry Lopez once wrote that he is suspicious of stories that are not firmly established in a place. Lopez would have no reason for suspicion here, since almost every paragraph contains some detail which shows the reader Alaska’s landscape: “Scanning the tundra, the rolling green hills that kissed the clouds, Karen took a deep breath. She felt like a thief, stealing deep gulps of air so she could taste the wild celery and fireweed that grew all around her.”
The issue finishes off with two excellent interviews with Robert Wrigley and Aimee Bender. Wrigley gives tips on how to balance his writing with his teaching, and Bender discusses the necessity of a stage of boredom in the process of creating art. This journal is an excellent read all the way through.