An Interview with Willow Springs Cover Artist Alexis Trice


Born and bred in New York City, ALEXIS TRICE has had an obsession with drawing and painting from a very young age, and flora and fauna have always been her subject of choice. After graduating from The School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Illustration, she started focusing on painting in oils. She creates fine art based on the natural world and has a business painting pet portraiture.

“To the self-interested, Alexis’s paintings seem to exploit conditions of entrapment, cruelty, and isolation. But the sense of exploitation falls away as the subjects become more dear to us, begging the viewer to consider what these conditions reveal about the necessity of our nature: to be free, to live without fear, and to propel ourselves into a greater, sometimes unfathomable scope of experience, however manipulative or dire. Horizons menace yet somehow beckon, reminding us where we stand in the scene: constraints serve as warnings, suffering betrays hope, and each contrivance—the better we see it—becomes urgently familiar.”

—Robert Canwell

Who are the artists you most admire, and how have they influenced you?

While I have a long list of artists and creators I deeply admire, I’d have to say first on the list is modern day painter Walton Ford, followed by naturalist and artist John James Audubon. Their deep admiration for and fascination with the natural world and its complexities have strengthened my curiosity and compelled me to explore and divulge my own personal narratives and approach.

Do you have a favorite piece of art (yours or someone else’s) and why?

Nearly impossible to choose one, but the artist who first comes to mind created such a unique niche that any single one of his paintings is an incarnation of his previous—Dutch Golden Age painter Otto Marseus Van Schriek. His work embodies the most seductive and elusive revelations of the natural work. Dark, sultry, curious, and so wonderfully, and sometimes even comically, rendered. His paintings encompass a special toad’s-eye view of the underbrush of the forest floor where our commonplace so-called “vermin” lurk with a hint of menace as well as astounding beauty.

What is your creative process when planning out a painting? How do you decide whether to do a piece in oils as opposed to watercolors?

Usually it starts with a flash of inspiration that I then break down but also build upon. There are particular animals that I feel very drawn to that I am constantly revisiting in my work. There is a language of sorts that I have constructed and portray through them.

Once I have a spark, I typically do a variety of thumbnail sketches, and then I search for photo reference online. I typically reference from many dozens of photos for each individual subject per painting, including plants native to the animals’ environment. From there I will refine and solidify a final sketch, and then move on to painting.

Sometimes I have ideas for work that have a more ethereal or illustrative feel to them, and that’s when I tend to take the watercolor approach. But for more complex, heavily layered and rendered pieces, oil is the way to go.

There is a real tension between the vibrancy of your colors and the darkness of your subject matter. How has the discourse on habitat destruction that we see throughout your pieces influenced your artistic aesthetic? And how have your aesthetic preferences influenced your subject matter?

My aesthetic and style of work has evolved on a separate plane from my subject matter. I suppose one may inform the other, and they ultimately dovetail, but not always. I think the delicate rendering of my subjects is greatly influenced by 18th century lithography, also a time period of peak exploration and attempted categorization of the natural world.

Two major veins in your work seem to be animals interacting with man-made objects or animals as victims of natural disaster. Can you discuss the overlap between these ideas?

Man-made objects are a disaster for animals and their environments, and a lot of disasters leading to endangerment are also man-made. Humanity has become a very powerful animal and force, to the degree that we are altering everything on our planet, including our weather. Let that statement sink in for a moment: the power to alter our weather. It sounds like centuries-old folklore, but it’s the undeniable state and suffrage of our earth. We essentially (human, animal, plant, elements, and so on) have all become victims of our actions and will continue to do so, lest some major and permanent changes are made.

What do you hope the viewer gets from those pieces that deal with the death of an animal versus those that highlight their natural beauty?

To me those are one in the same, cut from the same cloth, indivisible, though to the viewer it may not appear that way initially. I hope that my work can captivate the viewer long enough to sit and sort through the potential feelings of unease and discomfort. Of course, as with any art and viewer, the goal is to deepen connection and a (sometimes unspoken) understanding. There is no life without death, and there is no beauty without suffering.

How has the turmoil of the last year or so (the pandemic, the election, protests against racial injustice, the confluence of natural disasters, etc.) affected your work in terms of subject matter? Has it affected your process or the way you see yourself as an artist?

Ironically (and gratefully), I think the pandemic has made an unexpected deepening awareness between humanity and nature. It has made us slow down, savor and appreciate what our immediate surroundings have to offer and ground us, instead of the infinite world of distraction. Turmoil, so to speak, has had a continuous place in the undercurrent of my work. Because of this, I think my work has spoken to people in a new light, and as for me, I have felt a pivotal importance in my work in the ways of exhibiting and the truth of the subjects we tend to shy away from.

Where can people find your work?

Instagram @alexis_trice

And of course, my website,

Willow Springs Magazine to Host Live Issue 87 Release Party


This upcoming Saturday, March 6th at 5pm PST, Willow Springs Magazine will host an online release party in celebration of the official release of our latest addition, Issue 87. The party will be hosted via Zoom and YouTube live, and will feature live readings from contributors including Lisa Norris, Hannah Pass, Heikki Huotari, Lauren Moseley, John McCarthy, Mitchell Jacobs, John-Michael Bloomquist, Alexandra Teague, and AD Nauman. There will also be a live Q&A session for the audience to speak directly to the readers and ask questions about their work.

This event is free and open to the public, and can be viewed either through the EWU MFA Visiting Writers YouTube Channel or via the public Zoom party link. Attendees can find out more about the event and the readers via the Willow Springs Magazine Facebook event page and via the Willow Springs Magazine Instagram account. Attendees can also find out more about other Issue 87 contributors and read featured work from the magazine through the Current Issue page on the Willow Springs Magazine website. Issue 87 is now available for purchase through the EWU marketplace store.

If you feel like your work would be a great fit for upcoming issues of Willow Springs Magazine, you can submit your poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction through our Submittable page. Nonfiction submissions will be free for the remainder of the month of March.

Issue 82 Contributor Brian Phillip Whalen to Publish Debut Fiction Collection


Willow Springs Magazine issue 82 contributor and University of Alabama professor of creative writing Brian Phillip Whalen has announced the upcoming publication of his debut fiction collection, Semiotic Love [Stories]. It will be published in March by AWST Press, and is available for pre-sale now through the page on the AWST Press website.

According to a press release from AWST, “SEMIOTIC LOVE [STORIES] draws upon symbols and objects to explore the loss of relationships. In these pages, Brian Phillip Whalen reaches deep into the throat of anxiety with a graceful hand and understated humor as he confronts mothers and best friends dying slow or sudden deaths, disappointing vacations, and vanishing sisters. While loss of all kinds permeates these compact stories, it is the tenderness and longing that attaches itself to the reader and propels them to turn the page. This book reminds us that for better or for worse, we’re all a little rougher with the people we love the most. Fans of Lydia Davis, Stuart Dybek, Sarah Manguso, and Donald Barthelme will find a kindred spirit in Brian Phillip Whalen. Semiotic Love‘s brevity and evocative, lingering moments go hand in hand. Its stories can be read over breakfast or while you wait for the bus but will stay with you much longer.”

Semiotic Love [Stories] has received praise from multiple acclaimed authors including Matt Bell, Lynne Tillman, Michael Martone, Edward Schwarzschild, and JoAnna Novack. Novack, the author of I Must Have You, commented, “Semiotic Love bears the sign of a remarkable talent. Whalen is that rare writer who knows when to step aside and let his readers ‘watch the sky fall apart.’ With light and mercury, he exposes images of unprecedented potency–how better to speak all of our unspeakable loves?”

Brian Phillip Whalen’s work can be found in The Southern Review, Creative Nonfiction, Copper Nickel, the Flash Nonfiction Food anthology, and elsewhere. Brian holds a PhD from the State University of New York at Albany and is the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center residency. He lives with his wife and daughter in Tuscaloosa where he teaches creative and first-year writing at the University of Alabama. This is his first book.

You can find out more about Brian on his personal website. You can also read the poem he published in Willow Springs Magazine, titled “The Family of Things”, in Issue 82 of the magazine.

An Interview with Willow Springs Cover Artist Chris Bovey

My Post

Bovey’s goal is to cherish and capture the heart of Spokane. To glorify the beauty that makes a town feel like home. His work gravitates to the old and new iconic places and landmarks of the area and its signs. Every piece is handmade, signed, and numbered. Each one is made with care, and you can always find Chris’s limited edition prints at Atticus Coffee in Spokane.

Who are the artists and graphic designers you most admire, and how have they influenced you? 

No doubt, Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell. Andy reshaped how we view art and asked his viewers to look at advertising in a new light and see the beauty in it. Rockwell captured a vivid sense of nostalgia and created a sense of place.

Do you have a favorite piece of art (yours or someone else’s) and why? 

I LOVE this Ernst Haas Route 66 photo taken in 1969 in Albuquerque New Mexico. This is the only piece of art I have hanging in my house other than mine. I have spent many, many hours looking at all the detail in the piece. It speaks to Americana and capitalism in the 50s and 60s.

Much of your art showcases Spokane’s more popular architecture, nature, and city features. How has Spokane as a city informed your sense of design? Do you hope your art influences the way Spokanites and visitors alike appreciate the city?

I started this project because so many people thought Spokane sucked. This popularized the “Spokane doesn’t suck” phase, but instead of just claiming that, I really wanted to showcase why it didn’t suck. Instead of comparing ourselves to Seattle and Portland, I wanted to show people how cool this city really is and see it in a new light. Hopefully, people see that.

How has your work with the Inlander informed your life/art? 

The Inlander taught me simple is king. We had a rule there that it had to pass the “across the room test.” If folks didn’t know what it was from across the room, then you failed. I took this lesson with me and it always reminds me that simpler is better when it comes to bold artwork.

You’re really involved with the community in Spokane. What do you love most about that community work, and how do you feel like your art has impacted it or been impacted by it?

People make this city amazing. Whether working with the homeless — feeding them on street corners — or meeting people at my shows and talking to them about their memories of this place. I just love talking to other people and getting to know them and what makes them tick. They influence my work because they guide where this project goes. 

What are some of your favorite galleries, publications, and venues? 

I am an outsider when it comes to the art community. I don’t know if this answered your question, but I have always wanted to make art more accessible to people and bring it to them. So I love the idea of having a surprise pop-up show at a place like Dick’s where no one would expect it. More things like that take the pretentiousness out of art and make it a bit more approachable.

What other interests do you have that might inform your work? 

I dig going to antique shops in Hillyard and looking for rad postcards and matchbooks to see the local advertising of the past and maybe bring it back to life. I can spend a whole day just goofing around there!

Where can people find your work? What are you working on now?

You can find it at Atticus [Coffee & Gifts] and online at I was just asked by the Balazs family to do a limited run of the famous “Transcend the Bullshit” piece! It is a huge honor!

Willow Springs Editor Polly Buckingham to Give Reading from New Book: The River People


Willow Springs Magazine editor and renowned Eastern Washington University Creative Writing professor Polly Buckingham has announced that she will be reading from her new book of poems titled The River People at a live virtual reading this Wednesday, October 28th. The reading will be hosted by Lost Horse Press in celebration of their autumn 2020 book launches, also including Roy Bentley’s My Mother’s Red Ford: New & Selected Poems 1986 – 2020, Svetlana Lavochkina’s Carbon: Song of Crafts, and Mykola Vorobiov’s Mountain & Flower: Selected Poems. The reading will begin at 12pm PDT and will take place via Zoom. The event is open to the public, and can be registered to attend by clicking here or following the link on the attached poster. You can also find out more about the event from the Lost Horse Press Facebook page.

Polly Buckingham’s The River People was released via Lost Horse Press on October 1st of this year. As noted on the HFS Books website through which the book can be purchased from the publisher: “The poems in Polly Buckingham’s debut collection, The River People, move through both dream and natural landscapes exploring connection and loss, abundance and degradation, the personal and the political. The speaker in these poems is often in a state of not knowing that can be both terrifying and revelatory. It is a state in which windows and doors connect the living and the dead and the inner and outer worlds. Organized in four sections that move from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, the poems are heavily imagistic and reminiscent of deep image poetry and Spanish surrealism.”

The River People can be purchased now via the HFS Books website, the University of Washington Press site, in stores and online via Barnes & Noble, through IndieBound, via Amazon, and more.

This is Buckingham’s third book. Her first book, The Expense of a View, won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize and her second book, A Year of Silence, won the Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award. She is also the recipient of a Washington Artists Trust fellowship. You can learn more about her, read her online work, and find out where to purchase her previous books from her website.

Announcing the Willow Springs Magazine Reading Series! Up Next: Andrea Jurjević


Today, Willow Springs magazine is proud to announce their new virtual live reading series in collaboration with Eastern Washington University, a continuation of the first live stream reading event that occurred in June via Facebook Live with Robert Long Foreman, who read from his book I Am Here to Make Friends (2020). That stream was recorded and can be watched back here. The live reading was the first of its kind for our magazine given the virtual nature of the event, and has inspired many more to come.

The next reading in the series will feature Issue 85 contributor and award-winning poet Andrea Jurjević, who will be reading from her collection of poetry. The reading will take place next Friday, October 23rd at 7pm PDT. A Q&A with the audience will follow. The event is free to attend and can be viewed via Facebook Live on the Willow Springs Facebook page. In collaboration with Eastern Washington University, all EWU students and faculty can access the reading via Zoom as well.

According to Andrea Jurjević’s personal website: “Andrea Jurjević grew up in Rijeka, Croatia, in the former Yugoslavia, before immigrating to the United States. Her debut poetry collection, Small Crimes, won the 2015 Philip Levine Poetry Prize, and her book-length translations from Croatian include Mamasafari (Diálogos Press, 2018) and Dead Letter Office (The Word Works, 2020). Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Believer, TriQuarterly, The Missouri Review, Gulf Coast and The Southeast Review, among many others. She was the recipient of a Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a Hambidge Fellowship, and the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award. Andrea lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and teaches at Georgia State University.”

Andrea contributed three poems, “Nastic Movements”, “Department of Dream Justice”, and “Nevada Augury” to Issue 85 of Willow Springs magazine. Those poems, along with a featured interview in which she explains the inspiration behind them, can be read on our website here.

We will continue to announce upcoming events via our News and Events page, our Facebook page, and our Instagram. Be on the look out!

Multiple-Time Contributor Melissa Kwasny and Previous Editor Christopher Howell to Give Live Reading


On next Tuesday, October 20th, multiple-time Willow Springs Magazine contributor and Montana Poet Laureate Melissa Kwasny will be giving a live reading online with previous Willow Springs Magazine Editor-in-Chief Christopher Howell. The reading will begin at 6pm PDT, and can be accessed live via YouTube through the link here. Both authors will be reading from their extensive poetry collections.

The reading is being given as a part of the Windfall Reading Series, a collaboration between the Lane Literary Guild and the Eugene Public Library. Traditionally done in person, the Windfall Reading Series has been moved online for the 2020 lineup. Each reading can be viewed live via YouTube, and also played back after they are done.

As written on the Lane Writers Network website: Melissa Kwasny has been named Montana Poet Laureate for 2019-2020, a position she is sharing with M.L. Smoker. Her most recent poetry collection is “Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today.” She says, “Most of my poems address in some way our human relationship to the nonhuman world and my own attempt to forge a communication and conversation with it ….Recently I read that one translation of the Chinese character for poetry might be ‘words laid upon the earth altar.’ I like to think of my work like that.”

Also according to their website: Christopher Howell is author of twelve collections of poems, including the recent “The Grief of a Happy Life.”  Describing it, Yusef Komunyakaa said the book “feels and reads like a gift. Each healing song takes lyrical twists and turns and arrives at an abiding truth — a blessed ransom paid to soil and sky, body and soul, to the Earth….Every vowel is weighed, every leap earned, and the sway of hope drives the natural music of a worthwhile journey.”

Melissa Kwasny has been published in several issues of Willow Springs Magazine, including Issue 74 with her poem “Texture of the Soul” and in Issue 65 with three poems, two of which can be read here on our website. Her work also appears in Issue 62, Issue 59, and Issue 54.

Christopher Howell was the previous Editor-in-Chief of Willow Springs Magazine, and remains a beloved professor of poetry in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University, out of which Willow Springs is run.

Issue 81 Contributor Robert Long Foreman Publishing New Fiction Book


Issue 81 Contributor and 2013 Willow Springs Fiction Prize winner Robert Long Foreman has announced Weird Pig, a new fiction book coming out on October 1st. According to the Southeast Missouri State University Press site, “Weird Pig is about Weird Pig, a pig who wants to do right. But doing right isn’t always easy. He drinks. He eats pork chops. He rides a skateboard. He gets his fellow farm animals murdered, and fathers an illegitimate son who has a messiah complex. When Weird Pig leaves the farm he calls home, he inspires a series of children’s books that help bring on the end of his little world–a farm where human and beast alike toil in the shadow of an ever-growing factory livestock complex. From farm to table and beyond, follow the misadventures of Weird Pig in this kaleidoscopic portrait of America, seen through the eyes of a crazed animal who insists on making himself at home there.”

Erin Somers, author of Stay Up with Hugo Best, writes that “Weird Pig is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Robert Long Foreman has a special talent for capturing the chaos, brutality, and absurdity of life in America. Like Huck Finn meets Animal Farm on acid.” The book has also been awarded the Nilsen Prize.

Weird Pig can be pre-ordered now from the Southeast Missouri State University Press website, and goes on regular sale October 1st. It can also be pre-ordered and purchased via Amazon, as well as from Target’s website and from Book Depository. The original short story that inspired Weird Pig can be found in Copper Nickel magazine.

This is Robert Long Foreman’s third book. You can listen to a reading he did from his second book, I Am Here to Make Friends, here. You can also read his featured story, “The Vinyl Canal”, from Willow Springs Issue 81 here on our site. In addition, his short story “The Man with the Nightmare Gun”, which won the Willow Springs Fiction Prize, is in Issue 82 of Willow Springs Magazine.

Issue 86 Contributor Bruce Bond to Publish Sonnet Sequence Trilogy


New from Bruce Bond and Etruscan Press, Scar comes out in October of this year. As Bruce Bond described it in a recent announcement, “This trilogy of sonnet sequences explores trauma, self-alienation, and the power of imaginative life to heal–to reawaken with the past a better understanding of its influence, both conscious and unconscious, to gain some measure of clarity, empathy, and freedom as we read the world.”

As esteemed poet and author of Another City David Keplinger reviewed the book on Amazon, “These unrhymed sonnets, as if one whole note struck repeatedly from beginning to finish, are technically superb, but the genius of Scar is its faithful translation of an ache. I know no other poet writing today whose capacity of perception is so sensitive to the harmonies of language and truth, sphere music composed by the difficult, nearly impossible, work of listening closely and hearing what is real.”

Scar can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon, and will be available for general sale by November 10th. Additionally, it can be pre-ordered through the Etruscan Press website, where it will also be officially released on the 10th of November. Etruscan Press has also released a Scar study guide for interested readers and instructors.

This is Bond’s twenty-fourth book. He has been published in multiple issues of Willow Springs, including in our most recent Issue 86, which you can find more about here on our website.

Issue 85 Contributor Michael Hettich’s New Book of Poems


Recently, Issue 85 contributor and award-winning Floridian poet Michael Hettich gave a reading on Facebook Live with the Carolina Poets to promote his most recent book of poems: To Start an Orchard (Press 53, 2019).

Quoted from the Press 53 website, author Lola Haskins (How Small, Confronting Mourning), writes, “Michael Hettich has written, with extraordinary empathy, a book about vanishment: of dreams and fathers, of love and animals and birds. Look carefully at the glinting lights he paints. Like everything beautiful, they will be gone before you know it.”

This is Hettich’s twelfth published book of poems. His other recent book publications include Bluer and More Vast (Hysterical Books, 2018) and David Martison Meadowhawk Prize winner The Frozen Harbor (Red Dragonfly Press, 2017).

You can learn more about Hettich at his website here, and you can purchase his latest book through the Press 53 site and on Amazon here. It is also available on the Barnes and Noble website.