Adam Magill’s “Winston”

How does a dog comprehend loss? This summer we were taken by Adam Magill’s “Winston,” a beautifully written piece that hedges on a sharp turn. Here’s Melinda Marks reading Adam’s work on July 14 at our Words and Music show in San Jose’s St. James Park:

Adam Magill
Adam Magill

Adam Magill is a graduate of the Foothill Theater Conservatory and has received additional training at Seydways Studios in San Francisco. Recent credits include Stupid Fucking Bird at SF Playhouse and The Whale at Marin Theater Company. He is a regular contributor and company performer for the Play On Words literary performance series.

Marilyn’s “Snake” in “Paris”

We are huge fans of Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s short fiction–which is why we opened each act of our Words & Music show with one of her short stories. Here’s footage of Melinda Marks performing “April in Paris” on July 14 in San Jose’s St. James Park:

Thanks to Rick Alpers for filming our first act. Here’s Brian Van Winkle reading Marilyn’s second piece, entitled “Snake”:

Gary Singh’s Day in Question

Play On Words fans will surely recognize Gary Singh’s signature poetic style–declarative, language-focused, narrative poems. In case you missed it on July 14, watch the unbeatable Adam Weinstein perform two of Gary’s poems, starting with “”On a Mattress Above a Supermarket in the Capital of Silicon Valley”:

Here’s Adam reading Gary’s second piece, entitled “The Day in Question”:

Gary Singh is an award-winning travel journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he’s published nearly 1000 works including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. His poems have been published in The Pedestal Magazine, Dirty Chai, Maudlin House and more. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press).

Betsy Miller Gives Us a “Moment” in the Wind

When Melinda Marks started reading Betsy Miller‘s short story, “A Moment in the Rain,” the wind in San Jose’s St. James Park picked up. The temperature began to drop. Check out Melinda’s fabulous performance of Betsy’s chilling story:

Thanks to Michelle Anderson for capturing this on film.

POW fans might remember Betsy’s piece, “Bees,” that Adam Magill performed back in June. Betsy is one of the co-founders of Thinking Ink Press, a small independent press. She is currently working on a children’s picture book, Brooklynn Bunny’s Super Boots, and on a young adult novel called Dance, Interrupted.

Welcome to the World of Ben Black

When you visit a sculpture garden, what do you see? This week we were excited to perform two pieces by local writer Ben Black at our Words & Music show in St. James Park. Ben is a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at San Francisco State University. His work has been published in Smokelong Quarterly, New American Writing, Harpur Palate, The Los Angeles Review, and other journals. His stories have been finalists for the Calvino Prize and the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Contest, and one of them won the FOGcon 2013 Student Writing Award. He sometimes lectures at SFSU.

Here’s the wonderful Adam Weinstein reading “Sculpture Garden” (apologies, as part of our video was truncated):

And here’s Brian Van Winkle reading Ben’s second piece, entitled “Timber”:

Haunted by Sarah Lyn Rogers’ Prose

Thank you to everyone who joined us this week in San Jose’s St. James Park! We really appreciated the opportunity to fill our downtown park with stories and friends. Today we are excited to feature our first video footage from one of our returning authors, Sarah Lyn Rogers. Here’s footage of Adam Magill reading “Haunted”:

Melinda Marks read Sarah’s second piece, entitled “Mountain State”:

Thank you to Michelle Anderson for filming these pieces.

Sarah is a writer, editor, and illustrator from the San Francisco Bay Area. When Sarah’s not writing or doodling, she selects short fiction for The Rumpus, gives editorial feedback to young novelists through Society of Young Inklings, and writes snarky humanities content for an education website. For more of her work, visit

Publications, Honors or Awards:

James D. Phelan awards in metrical verse, free verse, and familiar essay. Academy of American Poets’ Virginia de Araujo Award.

Recent publications:

“‘Sleeping Lady Plate,’ 1976” in Cosumnes River Journal

“‘You can never quite forgive’ (148),” in Caesura.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Sarah Lyn Rogers
Sarah Lyn Rogers

I submitted work for the last two performances, “Take Flight” and “Spring Fling.” Nicole Hughes, who used to be one of the PoW organizers, goaded me into submitting the first time. Now I’m hooked!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I’m on a poetry kick again, rereading pieces I like by Matthew Zapruder and Erin Belieu. Leigh Stein is another writer I admire—she’s able to cram so many evocative objects and ideas into poetry that sounds both nostalgic and conversational. These poets in particular make me think, How did they do that? Can I?

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, is something I come back to again and again. Her shtick is that she’s a Zen practitioner and a writer who had an epiphany: What if she used writing as her meditation, her practice? This book is about “writing practice”—which isn’t so much about honing a craft it is about letting your thoughts flow freely without judgment. Use a fast-writing pen. Don’t look back. Don’t erase. If you reread later and any of your  recorded thoughts have special resonance, go ahead and harvest them—but that’s not the goal.

Pratibha Kelapure Returns

Last night we were thrilled to bring back one of our favorite local writers, Pratibha Kelapure, in our Words&Music show at San Jose’s St. James Park. POW fans might remember her piece “Swimming Lessons,” as performed by Laurel Brittan back in June. This time we were treated to one of her lovely poems, “Mango Pulping.”

Pratibha is the founding editor of The Literary Nest Journal. She writes short fiction, literary essays, and poetry. In her previous life, she served the Silicon Valley as a VLSI Software Engineer. Other than that she is a wife, mother, and a community volunteer.

Pratibha Kelapure
Pratibha Kelapure

Recent Awards:
Honorable Mention for the poem “Monet on Her Mind” in the Los Gatos Poet Laureate Poetry Contest
First place in the South Bay Writers WritersTalk Essay Contest in January 2014, July 2014, and January 2015.
I have won several weekly flash fiction contests such as Flash! Friday Microfiction Contest, Finish That Thought, Monday Mixer, 55 Word Challenge, Midweek Blues Busters, and others.

Upcoming projects:
I would like to grow and nurture my online literary journal, The Literary Nest. In the coming months, I will feature some great guest poetry editors. The submissions are always open.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Laurel Brittan
Laurel Brittan performing “Mango Pulping” on July 14 in St. James Park. Photo credit: Michelle Anderson.

I participated in the June event, “Play On Words: Take Flight,” and I am impressed with the energy and professionalism of the Play On Words organizers and the community.

Which writers or performers inspire you?
The musical theater performers and dancers inspire with the flow of energy and grace of movements.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
“My Fair Lady” was the very first musical I saw, and it inspired me for several reasons: the class commentary, perseverance of human spirit, and witty dialogue, not to mention graceful dancing.

Our July 14 show was made possible through the generosity of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association.