30 Things Stephen McClurg Loves Right Now

by tjbeitelman

(1) My one-year-old girl’s recent use of consonant clusters that sound part angelic, part Lovecraftian, part monkey chatter. | (2) My one-year-old girl’s recent use of o, currently and exclusively used as the interjection “O!” that sounds to me something like, “O! Sippy! Thou art found!” | (3) That a Shirley Jackson collection was an acceptable birthday gift for my wife. I think so, anyway. There was the zoo and sushi, but I’m still generally bad at gifting. “Gifting.” That’s an awful gerund. And we didn’t eat sushi at the zoo. That would just be weird. Sorry, this is supposed to be about love and life and art and not my usual fear, despair, and anxiety, which leads me to… | (4) Existential Star Wars! | (5) Watching action movies in French, a language as mysterious as Klingon to me. Spawn (1997) is meant to be watched in French or some other language the viewer doesn’t understand. | (6) It’s World Poetry Day! | (7) Dog snores. They soothe me. I wonder if I made tapes of these I could sell them as sleeping or meditation aids. (“Tapes!” Ha! Can you buy tapes anymore? I still use the noun “record,” too.) Sometimes I think I hear transmissions from space when the dog really gets going. | (8) Springish weather. | (9) Talking Heads: “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” | (10) Every other song by Talking Heads. | (11) Coffee | (12) SB13. I’ve wondered if Strunk and White would approve of the concision of speaking in abbreviations/hashtags. In my day, we wasted so much time saying things like, “Spring Break ’92!” | (13) I guess it’s a personal rule to always mention Eraserhead (1977) and Twin Peaks  in any list about things I love.  | (14) Libraries. | (15) Chocolate sent through the mail. In Easter grass. | (16) Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems (“Fork” / “Spoon” / “Knife”!) | (17) “Skye Boat Song” | (18) The Drunken Odyssey! | (19) Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” and when I am in aforementioned flow. | (20) Diaper rash ointment. | (21) Julius Hemphill: “Dogon A.D.” | (22) This Pat Conroy quote: “Fear is the major cargo that American writers must stow away when the writing life calls them into carefully chosen ranks. I have been mortally afraid of the judgment of other writers and critics since I first lifted my proud but insecure head above the South Carolina marsh grass all those years ago. Some American writers are meaner than serial killers, but far more articulate, and this is always the great surprise awaiting the young men and women who swarm to the universities, their heads buzzing with all the dazzle and freshness and humbuggery of the language itself.” | (23) Hypothetical butter. I woke with these words on my mind. Coleridge got Kubla Khan. Shelley got Frankenstein. I get “hypothetical butter.” | (24) Max Ernst | (25) When my wife cooks for me. | (26)  Anne Carson sorta-interviewed. (One of my few living art crushes! Usually my nostalgia lingers in the tomb. [“Oh, Frida! Paint my face on a monkey!” or “Oh, Emily! You are certainly less mannish than your daguerreotype suggests!”, etc.]) | (27) Sesame Street | (28) Adam Kirsch: The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry | (29) Reginald Shepherd: “On Difficulty in Poetry” | (30) Friends who write and teach, think about writing and teaching, and are willing to discuss matters of writing and teaching with me on an almost daily basis.


Stephen McClurg teaches and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Last spring, after winning the National Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Contest, he spent a week writing haiku for the Washington Post’s blog. In the past he has published articles, essays, reviews, short stories, poems, and comics in newspapers, journals online and otherwise, and in the anthologies You Ain’t No Dancer and Voices from a Safe Harbor. He has written and composed music for award-winning short films, art installations, and dance, and has work forthcoming in Map Literary, The Drunken Odyssey, and the True Home Project.