Issue 87: Allan Peterson


About Allan Peterson

A visual artist and poet, the most recent of Allan Peterson’s six books is This Luminous, New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.  Some other titles include Precarious, a finalist for the Lascaux Prize; All the Lavish in Common, Juniper Prize; and Fragile Acts, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His third book, As Much As, was published by Salmon Press, Ireland

His work has appeared in magazines such as: Agni, A Public Space, The Nation, The Gettysburg Review, The Paris Review, Blackbird, The Believer, The Rumpus, Zyzzyva, as well as internationally. No social media, but his website is:, stop by. Other links and publications can be found there.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Marksman" and "Anxiety"

A poem is a developing revelation. I do not know where a poem will go, nor do I want to. What would be the fun. This one started with those first few lines imagining a baby me looking up at I know not what. It acquired ideas that came together by reveries w/o attempting to create a narrative. The vision that developed is excited, curious, and optimistic, not unlike my current state, dec-ades later. In imagining inner thoughts and expectations, I could speak both as observer and participant. The accruing connections to the initial ideas were sometimes surprising, but I trust such jumps. The final line, that occurred spontaneously while working on something else a few days later, added a per-fect note of futurity.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Long a vegetarian, I don’t eat my animal friends, so many of whom I’ve admired over the years. I think I have an especially good reputation among turtles, having saved so many from highway compressions. If the question was “why did the turtle cross the road,” the answer would be: because Allan carried me there.

Beer and desert are fine combinations. Black Boss is a particularly delicious Polish porter. Cheesecake and pecan pie pair well. No music when I’m writing, otherwise Blues and Baroque.

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Issue 87: A. D. Nauman

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About A. D. Nauman

A.D. Nauman has published short fiction in TriQuarterlyNecessary Fiction, The Literary Review, Roanoke Review, The Chicago Reader, Other Voices, and many other journals. Her dystopian novel, Scorch, was published in 2001 by Soft Skull/Counterpoint. Nauman is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, and her work has been produced by Stories on Stage, broadcast on NPR, and nominated for a Pushcart prize. She recently finished a novel set in Tidewater, Virginia, during the Civil Rights era (and is seeking an agent). Nauman teaches literacy education courses at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She lives in a hundred-year-old house with her partner, Dion, and a very pampered tuxedo cat.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Lookers"

In the late 1970s, when I was a kid in Newport News, Virginia, there was indeed an AM radio station that launched a “Good Lookers” campaign. Pretty young women drove up and down the peninsula (so phallic) to give away money. There was, in fact, a DJ like “Big D,” whose persona was based on sexual harassment. The demeaning way he spoke about women on the radio was amusing to other men; women were expected to be “good sports” about it. This memory has stayed with me, the dynamics of it echoing throughout my life.

I thought the late 1970s was an important era to write about now: at that time, the country seemed to be just getting tired of the women’s movement. “Enough, already,” was the attitude. The Reagan era was imminent, bringing with it a backlash against feminism. The word “Femi-Nazi” was coined, and we entered a decades-long period of denial that sexism was still raging in our culture. It took the “Me Too” movement to bring that denialism to an end. That said, new ways to undermine equality for women undoubtedly lie ahead.

One hallmark of sexism is the rejection of a woman’s viewpoint—a refuting of the reality of her experience. In “Lookers,” Jenna’s anger and feelings of mental instability result from long-term sexual abuse, yet it’s easier for others to view her as just “crazy.” Along with sexism, I wanted to explore the intersectionality of gender and class, particularly how male behaviors that threaten low-income women can appear to uplift wealthy women. Affluent Luanne feels herself buffered against a demeaning predator like Big D, carrying a privileged sense of protection unavailable to Jenna. So where there could have been an alliance—a sisterhood—there is distrust and a lack of understanding that keep them divided.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Food: anything with cheese; booze: a lot; tattoos: none; kittens: my 14-year-old cat, a kitten at heart; music: Hamilton.

Hamilton. Hamilton Hamilton and more Hamilton. Hamilton. Also, Hamilton. I think we should replace the picture of Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill with Lin-Manuel Miranda. I mean, I truly think this. I’ve never seen the theater production, but when the movie version was released last year, my daughter, who has been singing the entire soundtrack verbatim for the past 5 years, suggested we watch it. I know this sounds corny, but Hamilton has flooded me with a renewed faith in American democracy. Hearing the founding fathers’ words in the voices of people of color was a profound experience. I listened to the soundtrack obsessively every day for weeks after seeing the movie. Then I saw the movie again. To me Hamilton underscores in bold marker the promise of this country: everyone is equaleveryone has a right to dignity and a meaningful life. We are so far from that ideal, but Hamilton provided me with a vivid reminder of this essential aspiration. In a democracy, everyone is worthy—not just white men, not just rich people, not just the well-connected or celebrities or their offspring. People do not have to be arranged into hierarchies. Even though we’re different, with varying talents and abilities, our presence on this earth is of equal value. Hamilton’s popularity has restored my hope that Americans may soon realize this. This is why I love Hamilton.

Also, Thomas Jefferson was hysterical.

Issue 87

“Lookers” by A. D. Nauman

Found in Willow Springs 87 Back to Author Profile JENNA SAT IN THE BACK ROW like she used to in high school and eyeballed her: Luanne, the original WRNL Good Looker, … Read more

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Issue 87: Amber McBride

A photo of Amber McBride

About Amber McBride

Amber McBride is an English professor at the University of Virginia. She received her BA in English from James Madison University in 2010 and acquired her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College in 2012. Amber low-key practices Hoodoo and high key devours books (150 or so a year keep her well fed).

Her poetry has appeared in/forthcoming in various literary magazines including PloughsharesProvincetown ArtsDecomPThe Cincinnati ReviewThe Rumpus and others. Amber also writes Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction and is represented by Rena Rossner at The Deborah Harris Literary Agency. Her novel-in-verse Me (Moth) will be published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan, in Aug 2021.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Southern Gothic (For the Black Boy)" and "Desecrate"

“Southern Gothic (For the Black Boy)” & “Desecrate” are both from a poetry collection I am working on tentatively called, Thick With Trouble. The collection examines being a minority in The United States and how simply living is an act of protest. The seeds for the poem “Desecrate” were actually planted when I was 13 or 14. My parents took us to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, CA. While walking through the museum I became very upset; I did not understand why so many human bodies were on display and why they were so far away from where they died. Two years ago, I had the same thought at a museum and started drafting this poem on my phone. I wanted to inspect if time had anything to do with the wishes of the deceased and the line between research and ritual. As an adult I was also very aware that the bodies of Pharaohs were on display, but not European kings/ queens. So this poem asked why?

“Southern Gothic (For the Black Boy)” arose from the frustration with the continued abuses/ fears and inaccurate stereotypes about Black men/boys in America. There is a twin poem in my collection that speaks to these same fears thrown at Black women. I also wanted to write a poem using couplets.

At the heart, both of these poems birthed from questioning the disparity between how white bodies are treated compared to the bodies of BIPOC. Inspecting these subtle and sometimes blatant disparities is a central theme in my collection, Thick With Trouble.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I have to listen to music when I write, so I am a huge fan of all genres. If I put my “Liked Spotify Playlist” on shuffle the first five songs I get are: Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday, Black Parade by Beyonce, Dilemme by Lous and The Yakuza, Daechwita by Agust D, and Dinner & Diatribes by Hozier.

Tattoos are essentially accessories you never have to take off—I adore them. I have several (all words and numbers) and I anticipate that as soon as it is safe to travel I will accidently (on purpose), get 15 in one year.

My German Shepherd, Shiloh, is my wolf child and best friend—she also enjoys music and if she did not have so much fur would want a tattoo.

Issue 87

“Southern Gothic (For the Black Boy)” and “Desecrate” by Amber McBride

“Southern Gothic (For the Black Boy)”   Our meal begins at a pine table surrounded by finely dressed haunts. The table wears a black cloth, to hide the blood in … Read more

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Issue 86: Andrew Furman


About Jennifer Christman

Jennifer Christman (she/her) is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College. Her debut fiction can be found in New Ohio Review 24. She lives in New York City.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Dani Bloom”


“Dani Bloom” was inspired by a place in south Florida that has fascinated and haunted
me for the past 20-odd years I’ve lived here. It’s a wild 2000-acre finger of West Indian
hardwoods at the very top of the Keys in North Key Largo. In the 1980s, it was the site of fierce and protracted litigation between developers, who hoped to build a nearly 500-acre faux Mediterranean coastal village of hotels and condominiums smack dab in the middle of the woods, and environmental activists, who opposed the plan given the critical role of the hammock to the ecosystem.

As so many of these stories go in south Florida, the developers eventually won the court
case and even started construction. Yet, thankfully, they went bankrupt and ultimately
abandoned the project before destroying too much of the hammock. Soon after, the state
purchased the land and named it after one of the local environmentalist heroes who fought to preserve it. Now, the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is home to 84 protected species of plants and animals, including Schaus’ swallowtail butterflies, mahogany mistletoes, wild tamarinds, American crocodiles, mangrove cuckoos, black-whiskered vireos, rare tree snails, and, my personal favorite, the endangered Key Largo woodrats, whose elaborate ground-nests of sticks and twigs enthralled William Bartram when he ventured down to Florida almost 250 years ago.

I travel down the highway with binoculars to visit this site when I can and it never fails to produce some great plant or animal discovery. But there’s also an eerie, Planet of the Apes feel to the place as several remnants of the abandoned development can still be glimpsed through the dense foliage, including a rock wall that snakes its way through the bush. I’ve known for quite a while that I’d eventually write a story set in this place, and then a character finally occurred to me, an adolescent girl, yes, growing up in the immediate aftermath of the failed development, whose mother maybe owned a native plant nursery and fought against it. The girl would be struggling to find her place in the world and the hammock—this magical place in its own right—would somehow play a role in her self-discovery. I’d have to find a way to get her out there. It had taken a while, I knew, to dismantle some of the buildings that the developers had partly constructed. Hmm. I just took it from there and hoped for the best!

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Don’t even get me started on my border collie mix, a rescue from Hurricane Harvey in
Texas. We named him Storm, of course, and I’ve been pretty much obsessed with him from the start. Thankfully, he’s also obsessed with me and doesn’t like to leave my side. Storm had a rough first year with us. Malnourished as a pup before we adopted him, the bones in his front legs didn’t develop normally. He had difficulty walking and we thought he might need surgery. Thankfully, proper nutrition and lots of TLC—especially from our youngest child, Eva—brought his legs up to speed, finally. We now take Storm to the dog park and beach, and we even drive him from south Florida all the way to Acadia National Park in Maine so he can enjoy the mountain trails and lakes with us. And then there was the time that he noticed a child drowning in the ocean and swam out 500 yards and dragged her back to the safety of the shore by grasping her shoulder strap with his teeth. Okay, that never happened, but if Storm did notice a child drowning, I’m sure he’d save her! Strangers we meet out and about are always impressed by his sweetness, his obedience, and his good looks! Often, people are stunned that he’s not one of those fancy high-cost breeds, but an “All-American Dog,” as we call him, and one of a kind. I tell his many admirers that they should consider getting their own rescue, as there are any number of special dogs out there in need of a loving home.

“Dani Bloom” by Andrew Furman

Found in Willow Springs 86 Back to Author Profile SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED to Dani Bloom the spring of her sophomore year at Keys High. She became popular. Not popular in the … Read more

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Issue 86: Jennifer Christman


About Jennifer Christman

Jennifer Christman (she/her) is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College. Her debut fiction can be found in New Ohio Review 24. She lives in New York City.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Elodie"

“Elodie” came about as a result of two other stories I wrote. One is about the Roseclaire character (her mother), in which she is living through the drama of her marriage ending and her friends ghosting her in her uptight suburb. That she has a little girl is barely mentioned. The other story is about the Old Lady character (her name is Avis in this story), who is loosely based on a real-life but now deceased grand dame of theater. Old Lady reminisces about her theater days and spends her time talking to Peanut (also inspired by and named for a real living being of a dog). Not long after, I wrote a shortie about a grungy, hovel-loving girl, Elodie, who works as a projectionist, at which point I thought, hmmm, I think she might be the daughter of that Roseclaire person. Then – I swear this is gonna come together – I read a memoir written in present tense and admired the ongoing sense of loss conveyed by the narrator (it’s about the death of her sister), and knew that Elodie would surely have experienced tremendous loss because of her mother’s withdrawal. So, I worked on Elodie as daughter of Roseclaire in the present and it just kind of rolled out. (This rarely happens to me… it’s usually a slog.) Oh, and I knew that Elodie would find her way to Old Lady and Peanut, because I loved them and wanted them in the story.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I love to cook, it’s relaxing, and Tracy Chapman has been my go-to for kitchen listening for the past year or so. Maybe the era we are in? Her soulfulness, her activism. 1970’s folk and classic rock are my defaults, though. I also love ska and reggae. Since a tune or tone often helps me conjure characters, I create playlists for them. Right now, a character I’m working on plays banjo, and his daughter, long after he passes, listens to it, too, to feel close to him. So, I’ve had a lot of Old Timey playing to help me feel closer to both of them.

Food and booze. I eat huge quantities of popcorn. When I don’t have popcorn, I eat corn chips. All day. Writer friends introduced me to a craft beer that I’m obsessed with – Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. The yellow can brightens my day.

I don’t have tattoos. Or kittens. But Teddy, my dog, is my constant companion – as in glued to my side. He’s fluffy, black and white, and mildly arthritic at 14, but still pretty spry.

“Elodie” by Jennifer Christman

Found in Willow Springs 86 Back to Author Profile IT’S AROUND THE TIME my mother, formerly Roseclaire, emerges from the lower depths. She’s been living in the basement since I was … Read more

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