Anniqua Rana Returns

How does birth transform us? In “Birth Canal,” an excerpt of Anniqua Rana‘s forthcoming novel, Wild Boar in the Cane Field, the narrator labors alone on the banks of a canal in rural Pakistan. We are delighted to perform Anniqua’s work on October 19 as part of our LitCrawl show at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre. We are excited to work with her again, after reading a different excerpt at our New Terrains show in February. 

anniquaAnniqua lives in California with her husband and two sons, where she teaches English to immigrant and international students at community college. Her extended family lives in Pakistan and England, and she visits them regularly to rekindle my roots. Her debut novel is a celebration of the rural women of Pakistan whose indomitable spirit keeps them struggling despite all odds. 

Anniqua has interviewed Asma Jahangir, Human Right’s Advocate, Pakistan and published essays on gender and education. She is at work on her next novel, A Sanctuary for Dancing Bears. She also produces the podcast Witty Bantr. She kindly answered a few questions for us in advance of our LitCrawl show.

wildboar

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? 

I enjoy the interplay of story writing and storytelling. POW does an excellent job combining the two. And, of course, I’m honored to be selected.  

Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Elena Ferrante and Mohsin Hamid.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you. 

The Meursault Investigation: A Novel.

Intrigued? Check out her launch party at the Bindery in San Francisco on September 17. Don’t forget to RSVP for Play On Words: Live in San Francisco on October 19. 

 

Introducing Sage Curtis

We are delighted to kick off our sixth season with Play On Words: Live in San Francisco, our return to SF’s inimitable LitCrawl festival. Our summer call for submissions brought in such riches—poems, plays and stories written by amazing people—that it made our job as curators tough. This week we are proud to introduce one of our featured writers for our October 19 event.

sage.jpg
Sage Curtis

Sage Curtis is a Bay Area writer fascinated by the way cities grit and how women move through the world. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Glass Poetry, The Normal School, burntdistrict, Yes Poetry, Juked and more. She has received an honorable mention for the 2017 Wrolstad Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2017 Rita Dove Award in Poetry and the Gigantic Sequins Poetry Award that same year. Also in 2017, she was named one of LitQuake’s Writers on the Verge. Her chapbook, Trashcan Funeral, is available from dancing girl press. 

We are excited to perform her poem, “A Series of Small Apocalypses,” this fall. In the meantime, she agreed to answer a few questions for us.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? 

I believe writing is as much about words as it is about community. Part of what is magical about writing is that your words can sound completely different, or mean something completely new, depending on who is reading them. This is what is unique and inspirational about Play On Words. 

Which writers or performers inspire you? 

I owe my poet lineage to Kim Addonizio, D.A. Powell, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Bruce Snider. Currently, I am inspired by the writing of Camonghne Felix, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Hanif Abdurraqib, Fatimah Asghar, and Angel Nafis.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you. 

Jamaal May’s reading of Macrophobia: A Fear of Waiting at AWP 2014 in Seattle. 

Want to learn more about Sage? By supporting her work on Patreon, you can gain exclusive access to poems, book reviews and more. RSVP on Facebook to our LitCrawl event to get the latest.

 

Small Press Fair tomorrow at Forager

Did you know that this week marks San Jose’s fifth annual Poetry Festival? Join us tomorrow from 11 am – 3 pm at Forager Cafe for the Small Press Fair. We will be tabling alongside a number of Bay Area-based presses and literary groups. If you hang out long enough you may even catch a brief Play On Words reading.

46355418_1427360020731151_5258934119601012736_n

Check out the Poetry Center San Jose’s website for the full lineup of literary events this week.

5 Reasons to Partner with #POWSJ

photo-059_tonyaExciting news: Reading through submissions for our LitCrawl show this fall, we received so many amazing pieces through the transom that we have more than enough to feature in San Francisco as well as for our next show. Our challenge? Finding a space to showcase all of this great work. Today we’re going to go behind the scenes at Play On Words to illustrate to potential community partners why you should partner with us to make these shows a reality:

  1. We bring talented, diverse, original voices to the stage. Since our founding in 2013, we’ve produced the work of over 60 writers, many more than once. These includes former Steinbeck fellows, award-winning novelists, tech writers, teachers, engineers, fellow literary producers, journalists, and–in our last show–an eighth-grader with a keen eye for narrative. Finding talent is never the hard part. Finding space, however, is.
  2. We do all our own marketing and we promote the hell out of everyone involved, from writers and actors to photographers, videographers, and venues themselves. Play On Words shows typically attract 70 patrons at a minimum–more than 140 at our last sold-out show. Our homegrown marketing is the result of partnering with people and organizations we truly believe in, and promoting their work alongside our own. We will never stop singing the praises of our beloved Blackbird Tavern (RIP), Cafe Stritch, the San Jose Downtown Association, Anne & Mark’s Art Party, San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre, City Lights Theatre and the San Jose Museum of Art. We’re always looking for opportunities to promote our downtown and Bay Area partners.
  3.  We don’t need much. Our performances are stripped down–no major production beyond having a few actors on stage. The only requirements to host a show are ample seating, a stage or elevated area to perform, and amplification. We provide a photographer and videographer and are happy to share assets following a show. Most shows are about 90-120 minutes in length with a brief intermission.
  4. There’s a message behind our work.  We pour our heart and soul into every show because we believe in the work we do—we see art as a civic responsibility and an opportunity to learn from our community. In 2017 we partnered with the Flash Fiction Forum and a few community members to create Activate, a chapbook created in response to the 2016 election. We are currently planning a show that could elevate the voices of people stuck in immigration detention. We see art as an avenue to change, and we want to partner with organizations who share these values. Our mission to elevate, promote and perform the work of unknown and established voices is behind everything we do.
  5. And finally: we are mobile, pop-up and adaptablePlay On Words exists thanks to the network of tremendous writers, artists, community partners and patrons who have made each show possible. Because we have no brick and mortar theatre, we can bring a fully-imagined, 100 percent-planned show to any venue that can support performing artists. 

Interested in partnering with us on our next show? Email Julia and Melinda (because it’s just the two of us!) at playonwordssj@gmail.com so we can get the conversation started. Let us fill your house.

 

5 Reasons You Should Submit to #POWSJ

IMG_1334
Our sold-out show at the San Jose Museum of Art, February 2019.

Over the last six years, we’ve noticed a trend in two different types of writers: Those eager and excited to send their best work into the world, and those who often plan to submit but claim their work is never “perfect” enough for our performers to interpret. To them we say, there’s a difference between your work being perfect and your work being ready. It can feel like a fine line, because we certainly aren’t interested in reading first (or even second) drafts—we want work that is polished, thoughtful, provocative, surprising, and full of pizazz. But we also want our community to create and produce, get feedback on works in progress and share stories that they think deserve to be told. As we gear up to review submissions for our LitCrawl show this month, we’re offering five reasons you (or the writers in your life) should submit to us:

  1. A professional performer will interpret your work, which means you get to sit back and enjoy the show. No more stage jitters for you!
  2. You will hear your work in a new way. Without your words printed in front of you, you’ll notice innate patterns in your writing that are hard to notice on the page. Believe it or not, you will discover new ideas listening your words being read back to you.
  3. Your work will be presented in conversation with the stories, poems, plays and essays of other writers. When we accept work, we reflect not only on the strength of individual pieces, but how they should be presented as a whole. We spend a lot of time thinking through how the order of pieces can contribute to a greater narrative, and when you get a chance to hear your work presented alongside others, you’ll find that you are in great company.
  4. You will meet new friends and potential collaborators. A number of our contributors have teamed up on joint projects or connected for future collaborations. What better way to meet fellow artists?
  5. You will be joining a very special tribe. Since 2013, we have performed the work of 60 artists—some more than once. Part of our mission at Play On Words is to promote the work of people we believe in, artists who shape our perspectives, and voices who need some time in the spotlight. We always like learning news of previous contributors and make every effort to promote news of books, publications, shows, collaborations, etc., whenever possible.

We produce shows because we believe that your work is important. We believe that for every great poem, surprising story, or funny one-act we’ve produced, there are just as many amazing pieces yet to be discovered. We hope that you will consider trusting us with your work and that you’ll help us spread our call for submissions.

Email your submission of original fiction, nonfiction, theatre or poetry (>1500 words), along with a 20-word bio and a headshot, by June 18 to be considered for our LitCrawl show.

LitCrawl Call for Submissions: Deadline June 18

Five years ago, we had the pleasure of performing in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley as part of LitCrawl, an evening of events hosted by LitQuake, a weeklong literary festival. Today we’re thrilled to share that we will once again participate in the SF LitCrawl, this time at the amazing Stage Werx theatre at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 19.

litcrawl2
Michael Weiland, Melinda Marks and Ryan Alpers performing at Play On Words: Your Words, Our Voices in October 2014. Photo by Michelle Anderson.

We Need Your Words!

We’re looking for fresh, smart, funny, provocative, absurd, thoughtful, goofy, surprising work to perform at this year’s show. We will be curating about 45 minutes of content, which means we’re especially interested in flash pieces, poetry, ten-minute plays—anything that can be performed aloud with gusto. We are looking for:

  • Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, theatre, work in translation accepted under 1500 words.
  • Submit all work to playonwordssj@gmail.com as an attachment or Google doc.

In order for your work to be considered for LitCrawl, you must include the following with your submission:

  • A 20-word bio and head shot.
  • Contact information for day of the event.

Work must be submitted no later than Tuesday, June 18, at 5 p.m. This gives you two weeks to polish off your words and prepare to submit.

Ronald Feichtmeir reads Michelle Qiao’s “The City Across the River”

On February 24, we were thrilled to perform work by Play On Words’ youngest contributor, eighth grader Michelle Qiao. The multitalented Ronald Feichtmeir closed out our New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art with his performance of “The City Across the River”:

Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos, as well as all of the amazing writers, performers, artists and friends who helped make this show happen. We hope to host more POW shows in the months to come, so stay tuned to learn how you can participate!

Tonya Duncan reads “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel” by Arcadia Conrad

Have you ever had dinner with your late grandparent? How about a drink with your long-dead grandmother? We were taken by Arcadia Conrad’s “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel,” which actor Tonya Duncan knocked out of the park at our Feb. 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for being our trusty photographer. We hope to have another show this summer or fall–contact us if you’re interested in participating!

Ivette Deltoro Reads Rebecca Kling’s “Postpartum Dream Sequence”

Few things can fully capture the absurdity and sheer love of early parenthood. In case you missed our February 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art, take a minute to watch the fabulous Ivette Deltoro perform “Postpartum Dream Sequence” by Rebecca Kling:

Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos.

We are currently seeking venues for our next show. If you’re interested in partnering with Play On Words, please contact us at playonwordssj@gmail.com.