Try 101

Practice — Process — Projects

Month: April, 2013

Connecting-the-Dots: Random Points of Light in Twenty-Years of Friendship

by sophiakartsonis

“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”
― Vincent van Gogh

(This post was written collaboratively in Powell, Ohio, as Kathrine Wright: bridesmaid-goddess-extraordinaire  was making a bride-salvaging visit.)

That we both loved Van Gogh, and Anne Sexton and Starry Night rendered in shaggy paint and shaggy words. That we loved the wild-hearted, gypsy-brains of each. That stars and words would beckon us both, differently and in cometing cross-paths to each other.

And ever expand. And turn into year, years, decades, that turn into lives lived and altered by place, time, space, lines.

That, now, years and years from that first class my student  offers up a painting and my friend writes a poem in reply.  They’ve never met, but star-story and my knowing of them both, makes another pattern in our collective night sky. That the first graduate student I have ever directed chose to call her project Not Written in Stars. It is poetry constellating words across a wall, watercolor, homemade book and chalkboard sky canvases, a series of skies with faint points of white making again, words.  It is a planetarium: painstakingly punched points of light. Of course, my starry-eyed friend had to fly out to see it. The words and the stars: they multiply.

And the ones that have come, gone, even better, those who stayed, signed on, jiggered themselves a place within these walls and walks and walkabouts and words.

That we are gathering what stardust we can, what words, both plucked from the marrow of our heaven-made bones. That we are heaven-skeptical, save for real skies with real stars in them. Or real gardens with points of light that can be strung together for real toads. But one of us is here to celebrated that the other has kissed enough of those. We’ve been poeming this out from the day that we met. Star-written, star-crossed, crossing stars off our life-in-lights list. We know that what makes a thing make sense is only proximity and context. We grow nearer in order to keep the light arriving no matter how far into the darkness we move away.

And what we’ve found for ourselves, together, away. And the patterns and paths that keep us near, even when far is how the day falls. And the knowledge of the ever-present shock and following sadness kept off the horizon, lurking. And the luck in those days overflowing with more bliss than sighs. And the sureness of having a cheering section just for you, each planet, each satellite in two orbits.

30 Things I’ve Pulled from the Fire of Recent-Days

by sophiakartsonis

  1. Despite Boston, the unfathomable, unnecessary.
  2. The forsythia fired-up their yellow torches. Driving home to them. Driving home.
  3. Poems in our pockets. Getting students to carry them and hand them out.
  4. Directing my first graduate student. Her work:  words as constellations, a planetarium for which she punched in the points for every star. A handmade book of poems.
  5. Teaching at an art college.
  6. Finding out that a good friend, at long last, (one of my favorite people in all of the world,) is getting his book published.
  7. Despite my fiance’s bad bloodwork, another diagnosis.
  8. The reservoir still visible from my bedroom glass doors. Last ribbons of sunrise floating up. Knowing that when that view goes, it will because Spring dressed all of the trees up in another pretty vista.
  9. Despite the death of a childhood friend, my godmother’s son. So much wrong in dying that way, that young.
  10. Primrose: magenta with yellow suns at the core of them. purple, too. The unexpected jewel-box cluster appearing where I had forgotten I had planted them.
  11. Coming home to five deer in our yard at dusk. The yard was all blue-hour which with the bright yellow forsythia made a Van Gogh palette of the evening. That would have been enough, but then quietly, each deer began to take shape against the grass.
  12. There is always another vista.
  13. Having a minor bridal meltdown and in a group letter to a group of family and friends, asking for help.
  14. One friend walked me through the menu selection/invitation process. A task, that for some reason, had been utterly beyond me.
  15. One friend had a handyman at my house the next day. The loathsome dropped ceiling in the kitchen and the cat door project—two dreaded and paralyzing tasks will soon be underway.
  16. More than anything that they did, each reminded me what joy these plans represent. I am a long way from twenty-five. It is a first marriage for both of us. In this long, messy meander. we found our way to finding our way.
  17. Pencil cactus. Their pencil-true diameter and thorn-less silhouettes. Like  delicate peach/green corals with the slenderest fingers pointing to the sky.
  18. Despite the difficult transitional year at a job that I love.
  19. Sestina Fey, Hold Me Closer Tony Danza, The Robert Frosting on our April Poetry month cake. A day of guerilla poetry and necessary laughter with students that daily remind me how lucky I am to do what I do.  Some days, April is the coolest month.
  20. My  three year old nephew on the phone talking about my niece “Miranda’s so cute! She is a baby, I don’t know why!”
  21. Clementine: a petite cat with strange frosty fur black on top and white beneath. The wild wonder of her pumpkin-eyes. She is my first female cat since my favorite cat, Gladys’s sudden death and whose passing, also marked the last link to any  of  my previous lives before Ohio.
  22. Trader Joe’s Almond Butter
  23. Despite the loss of my cherished office. Goodbye wonky-shaped, windowless, small space with my newly-painted periwinkle blue wall.
  24. Happening upon  Clementine basking in the sunroom, in Gladys’s very chair and feeling no minor twinge, but only a rush of warmth and gratitude that tells me some healing has taken place.
  25. There’s a shabby green boat we found in Tipp City late last fall. It’s time now to take it for a spin.
  26. Chocolate Velvet Coffee
  27. A sizeable stanza each day, so far, in April towards my annual poetry month challenge.  Knowing how hard-won that time to write has been. I am writing this at four thirty a.m.
  28. Torrential early morning rain, pulling the down comforter back up from its folded place at the foot of the bed and with boy and cat, snuggling-in.
  29. Blood orange sorbet.
  30. My wedding dress arrived in yesterday’s mail.  I already have to take it in.

30 Things I Love Right Now

by tjbeitelman

(1) My girlfriend. | (2) My dog. | (3) My family. | (4) My friends. | (5) My job. | (6) My house. | (7) My day-to-day life. | (8) Which is (also) to say: #1 – #7 as a nod to something akin to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, at least in terms of an emotional/creative life well-lived. My energies are limited, my time is limited. I want and need to focus. I want and need to know what’s important. To feel it. I’m more and more aware of that fact these days. This awareness feels very good to me. It’s such a relief to stop, lie down in green pastures, etc. Speaking of which… | (9) Green pastures, especially ones on the outskirts of…  | (10) Athens, Alabama. Also… | (11) The Tennessee River. | (12) Green walls too. | (13) Thinking about how things are. But more than that, just… (14) How things are. | (15) Not thinking so much about how things used to be. | (16) Not thinking so much, period. | (17) Books. (Reading isn’t exactly thinking, you know. It’s something else. Or it can be.) Namely (but not exclusively)… | (18) Flock Book by Katie Umans and… (19) Doll Studies: Forensics by Carol Guess. | (20) C. S. Lewis. | (21) Saturday morning. | (22) Sunday morning. | (23) Sunshine. | (24) Clean windows. | (25) Seeing and feeling #23 through #24. | (26) Having seen/heard (finally) Jay Farrar play music live, especially having seen/heard him with Eddie and Jason. (Even though it was a Tuesday night and I turned into a pumpkin at 9:00 p.m. [please see #8 above, specifically the part about limited energies] and the drunk lady behind me kept asking me who was playing and if I could spell it for her, all while the band tore into one of my, like, top-five all-time favorite songs,* which I was hoping against hope to hear all night. Which in retrospect is pretty funny and probably even a little fitting. Something about expectations, the futility/folly of waiting for what you think you want, etc.) | (27) *“Drown” by Son Volt. Which I heard. (Sort of.) Live. This past Tuesday night. | (28) Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs: Portraits from a Musical Life by Jay Farrar. | (29) Self-imposed three-day weekend. | (30) Summer coming.

30 Things About the Author

by kathrinewright

  1. The author will experiment with her newest work, hot off the printer. Be forewarned. It may be rough.
  2. The author will not tell you what she means.
  3. The author does or does not claim that any of the events of this novel happened to her.
  4. The author spends more money at the big box bookstore than she should. She also spends too much at the indie bookstore down the street.
  5. The author will quickly be out louded by the smartassed and slightly batshit extrovert yammering about their blog in the Q&A
  6. The author sometimes loves to be anonymous.
  7. The author would appreciate it if you cry softly while she reads that one poem.
  8. The author took a long, long time to figure out the way to story that story. She writes and rewrites it still.
  9. The author does or does not have thirteen types of tea in her cupboard.
  10. The author has lost many journals.
  11. The author abandoned writing in journals several years ago and now only writes in front of a screen.
  12. The author, upon finishing that poem/story/essay/novel, has no idea what it means.
  13. The author may or may not be happy with that much ambiguity.
  14. The author grew up in the gender-bending eighties. She thinks it smart that you never forget that.
  15. The author might love you just little bit. If you.
  16. The author may not give one flying fuck about you.
  17. The author may be a little afraid that no one will be at her reading.
  18. The author is definitely afraid that there will be so many people she will not be able to speak. She prefers it this way.
  19. In the middle of the reading, the author’s brain will spasm, and she will forget something important she wanted to tell you.
  20. You may or may not be the character upon which much vitriol is heaped.
  21. You may or may not recognize yourself as they character she may or may not portray you as.
  22. You may see yourself where you are not.
  23. The author will need to find another character to love/hate tomorrow.
  24. The author will find this terrifying. Less terrifying than any other option.
  25. The author is a trap.
  26. The author plays terrible, sappy stuff on a defunct music player to write a certain kind of poem.
  27. The author knows only a shallow grave of what she’s talking about.
  28. The author knows the minutia of her subject, and is consumed by it, and you would not believe how much she kept out of the chapter, just to keep you here.
  29. The author will love one chapter just a little too much, for reasons only she will or will not understand.
  30. The author will love this moment. And this one. And this one.

Updates…

by tjbeitelman

There are new Tryers coming aboard!

New voices. Same message: “Make the effort. It’s worth it.”

More soon…

A butterfly that dies in your palm

by ajanefountas

“…literary reputation is a fragile, innocuous, and transient thing—a butterfly that dies in your palm the moment you capture it. Thus: do the work, which is the only thing over which a writer has some measure of control. Paula did the work. It was there for us to find, still vitally alive. In that sense, I wonder if maybe we don’t have all this backward. Maybe certain books and certain writers are not found. The work of Paula Fox, I think, found us.”

From a post in yesterday’s the Paris Review Daily, written by Tom Bissell.

Now I might have to read Paula Fox. Have you read Paula Fox? Or tried to write like Paula Fox?