Try 101

Practice — Process — Projects

Category: 30 Things

Thirty+ Things WE Are Loving Right Now

by sophiakartsonis

Fall, my fleeting but favorite of the seasons. I am eleven kinds of dorky over all of its charms, from the natural kaleidoscopic blizzard that’s kicking up a little already to the dream I become for the marketers of fifty shades of pumpkin (flavoring) from the coffees (mentioned below) to beer, hard ciders, to English muffins and Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt, I adore it all, shamelessly. I wanted to hear what is moving others about this time of year so I asked a bunch of people to tell me one thing they were loving right now: Read the rest of this entry »

30 Things I Love Right Now

by tjbeitelman

(1) Ten Good Songs. Which is to say: (2) “One of These Days” by (3) the Drive-by Truckers, (4) “Six White Horses” by (5) Gillian Welch (who must be the [M]atron Saint/Siren of the Bearded Men of Try 101), (6) “Be My Husband” as sung by (7) Lisa Hannigan or, of course, (8) Nina Simone(9) All Those Girls” by (10) Jolie Holland, (11) “Boeing 737” by (12) the Low Anthem, (13) “Hell Broke Luce” by (14) Tom Waits, (15) “Window Sill” by (16) the Arcade Fire, (17) “Little Bird” by (the aforementioned) Lisa Hannigan, (18) “Something in the Way” by (19) Nirvana, (20) “Longing to Belong” by (21) Eddie Vedder. | (22) Which is to say: Mixes. | (23) Being “in the mix” — the saying, the endeavor itself. | (24) My well-read hematologist, who is always late and who likes craft beer. This time I knew to bring a novel, which seemed especially appropriate. Speaking of which: (25) This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann, which is the novel I was reading while I waited in my hematologist’s office. | (26) “Okay. Well. Is that okay? I think we’re done here. You’re fine. It was good to get to know you. I’ll be on the look-out for your book. Have a nice life.” — My Hematologist. | (27) Live music. | (28) Athens, Georgia. |  (29) The Watsons of Athens. | (30) Ramak of Atlanta.

30 Things

by mark neely

1. Pandora.

2. Though I do miss the DJs. Industries like music and journalism have decided to get rid of anyone they might have to pay.

3. Typing “Gillian Welch” into Pandora seems to work for me.

4. Though sometimes it’s best to fuck with the algorithm, show the machines they haven’t taken over yet.

5. “The Roots” + “Superchunk” for example.

6. “I Hate Music” as a song and a song title and an album title.

7. Watching my son’s first Tae Kwon Do class.


8. Children treating adults with respect.

9. And (an even more unusual occurrence) adults treating children with respect,

10. Jim Harrison’s food writing.

11. “In both writing and cooking, you’re a dead duck if you don’t love the process.”

12. The fact that, despite everything, Harrison is still kicking.

13. Listening to Tobias Wolff read Stephanie Vaughn with my students.

14. Getting ready to read Cathy Park Hong with my students.

15. Knowing some of them will hate it. But some won’t.

16. A real gutter-pounding rain after a month of drought.

17. Abrupt transitions.

18. Serena, again.

19. Nadal on the one hand and Federer on the other.

20. The cruel stunted version of mortality suffered by top athletes.

21. Though they say physicists and mathematicians also produce their best work by age forty.

22. Hopefully writers are a different breed.


23. Saban.

24. Being on the right side of an evil empire.

25. Cribbage. The pegs. The winding board.

26. N + 7.

27. The required hard copy of a dictionary.

28. Knowing nostalgia for such quaint old things is a really a perfectly transparent wish to turn back the clock on my own dying animal.

29. My daughter reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

30. “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”

The Things I’m Not Doing So that I Can Focus on One Thing

by kathrinewright

  1. Image
  2. I’m writing a book of poems. Of 88 poems, about a specific set of things. (Constellations) It’s as ambitious as a novel, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  3. I started this collection in grad school, back when Bush the second was busy invading Iraq and spending our children’s future on a (wrong) hunch about nuclear capabilities.
  4. At that time I wrote about 25 poems. And then…I let it linger.
  5. I picked it up a year ago. After trimming out poems that no longer interested me, I had 13 poems left. Plus two prologue poems, which to this day, remind me exactly why I started the effort in the first place.
  6. In the past year I have written about 55 more constellations.
  7. That means I have focused. I used to believe that creativity spread wildly magnified itself. But I have few fully completed projects to show for it. And no book publication. I have rebelieved.
  8. I have only 20 constellations left to poem.
  9. That’s the back quarter, the last slip of the moon’s worth.
  10. Now.
  11. To get there, here’s what I haven’t done.
  12. I haven’t organized my office.
  13. No carpet cleaning has happened in this time period.
  14. My office is still tangerine- and creamcicle-walled. Lovely colors, but not for me. Not for poem-ing about constellations. For that you need blue.
  15. I have given up paper crafts (I love handmade paper, but it had to go.) Also, jewelry making.
  16. I have given up baking. Although, I gave that up too, to save calories.
  17. Not that it helped in that regard.
  18. I jettisoned (love that word) washing my car every month.
  19. I forgot to get pedicures. (That’s a first world problem, but one of my true loves.)
  20. I avoided freelance work. I joined no committees. I haven’t had many people over.
  21. I let the garden overrun itself.
  22. Wow. That’s a lot.
  23. I have run out of ideas, and ran into them again. I became overwhelmed at the vastness of the universe, universes, galaxy, galaxies.
  24. I came through that black hole.
  25.  And kept sitting down to tackle just one more.
  26. And one more.
  27. And one more.
  28. It takes that much. I always knew I had it.
  29. I’m almost there.
  30. I have so far to go.

(This blog post also live on Sweetly Disturbed blog  at )

Thirty Things I Love Right Now

by mark neely

1. Summer!

2. A job that gives me some extra time to read during summer.

3. Which reminds me of being a kid, going to the Champaign public library every week and checking out a load of books on my laminated green library card.

4. Mario Puzo said, “my mother regarded my library card with the same horror that present-day mothers look at their son’s heroin needles.”

5. I usually read a “big book” in the summer—Middlemarch, War and Peace, Infinite Jest, etc.

6. This summer I have a lot of shorter books I want to read, so I’m skipping the big book pledge.

7. Reading nonfiction and doing some work on a nonfiction project.

8. David Foster Wallace’s essays (the McCain essay and the Lobster essay and even the American Usage essay, though lord that’s a lot of words about dictionaries).

9. Anything he writes about tennis.

10. Wallace on tennis reminds me to write about the things I love.

11. Serena Williams, who won her second French Open, and 16th Grand Slam, leaving her just two titles away from tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

12. Wallace never wrote his Serena Williams essay. But I imagine it sometimes.

13. Virginia Woolf’s essays, particularly “Street Haunting,” which I read for the first time a few days ago.

14. Reading something this amazing for the first time.

15. “No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in which it can become supremely desirable to possess one…”

16. Disc golf.

17. A long putt catching in the chains.

18. This 30 Things is theoretically nonfiction.

19. The Replacements reunion!

20. The sneaking suspicion this won’t actually happen.

21. Then I could still say I saw the last ‘Mats show, on the Fourth of July in Grant Park in 1991.

22. Croutons. Get a loaf of bread and some tasty olive oil and make them yourself. You’ll thank me.

23. The Spurs—a small market squad built on teamwork, lack of drama, a core of veterans mentoring the young and talented.

24. The Heat—a large market team, a ruthless hit-squad built from poaching talent from around the league. More drama than the Broadway Les Miserables.

25. Cue narrative.

26. The attack essay. To be honest I haven’t read this yet—I’m saving it for an upcoming airplane trip. I’m sure it will piss me off, but it’s good to get pissed off about art sometimes. Somewhat surprised to see any long-form writing about poetry in a mainstream magazine.

27. Using three exclamation points in this post, the number someone said a writer should use in his or her lifetime.

28. Writing rules!

29. Breaking writing rules, as in the adverbs of Frank O’Hara.

30. I’m doing an experiment where I stay entirely offline for the month of July. I’ll tell you about it when I get back.

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.

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.

30 Things I Love Right Now

by ajanefountas

(1) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. | (2) Mary Frances Nolan, a.k.a. Francie. | (3) Discovering the past two things via a 1940s best-sellers list. | (4) All the colorful lights hanging from houses. | (5) 826 Seattle Style Club. | (6) The kids that come to style club. | (7) Miranda July’s presentation at Seattle Arts & Lectures. | (8) Finding out that Miranda July is now a mother. Did you know that? | (9) The 15,000 words I have toward my new writing project. | (10) Thinking about the 1970s. | (11) Looking at issues of The New Yorker from the 1970s, including the ads. | (12) The Long-Winded Lady, a.k.a. Maeve Brennan. | (13) The little library of Irish books on my desk in front of a photo of the little house my grandmother grew up in. | (14) Diane von Furstenberg.| (15) Heavy rains at night when I can’t sleep. | (16) Fresh Air. | (17) Terry Gross.  | (18) Oliver Sacks on hallucinations on Fresh Air. | (19) Buy Olympia. | (20) The Little Otsu Annual Weekly Planner. | (21) Red wine. | (22) Chocolate muffins. | (23) Pilates. | (24) Belle & Sebastian’s “If You’re Feeling Sinister.” | (25) Song lyrics that go in delightful directions. | (26) Song lyrics that tell stories that don’t go anywhere. | (27) Gerhard Richter Painting. | (28) Gerhard Richter’s paintings. | (29) Looking out the window. | (30) Our flowering lemon tree, which is not out the window but inside.