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.

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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.

“Pedacitos” and “Hija de Tejas” by Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

How can you find pieces of yourself? We were moved by #powsj actor Ivette Deltoro’s performance of “Pedacitos” by San Jose State graduate and Texas poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff. Check out her reading from our February 24 at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Following our intermission, #powsj casting director and actor Melinda Marks performed “Hija de Tejas,” another beautiful poem by Anjela:

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming this and Branden Frederick for taking photos.

Want more #powsj magic? So do we! Contact us if you’d like to be a partner for our next show,

 

 

Melinda Marks reads “Chimes” by Keenan Flagg

Last month we were thrilled to fill San Jose Museum of Art’s Wendel Gallery with stories, friends, and conversation. Many thanks to all of the writers, performers, artists and volunteers who made this show possible. We are excited to share footage from each of the pieces performed, starting with Keenan Flagg’s poem “Chimes,” performed by POW casting director and co-founder Melinda Marks:

Want more Keenan in your life? Check out City Lights Theatre’s production of “Eurydice,” adapted by Sarah Ruhl and interpreted in American Sign Language. The show runs through April 14.

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for capturing our show on film.

 

Watch #NewTerrains with Witty Bantr

Well, we did it, friends: We filled the San Jose Museum of Art’s Wendel Gallery with beautiful stories, wonderful performances and even better people. Thank you to all the artists, writers, performers, friends, family and community members who joined us Sunday for an amazing show.

Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be rolling out photos and videos of each individual performance, but until then, #powsj contributor Anniqua Rana of the Witty Bantr podcast has graciously shared her recording of the entire show, which opens with Ronald Feichtmeir’s reading of her piece, “The Shrine of Sain Makhianwala.” In case you missed it, watch the whole show here:

Many thanks to Anniqua and her team for sharing this, and stay tuned for more show recaps in the coming months. Thank you all for exploring new terrains with us.

Anjela Villarreal Ratliff’s Pedacitos de Tejas

In her poem “Hija de Tejas,” Anjela Villarreal Ratliff writes that “the body seeks its way back home.” Sometimes we encounter new terrains inside our body, in the air we breathe, in the cultures we inhabit. We were impressed by Ratliff’s voice and spirit, and are excited to perform two poems–“Hija de Tejas” and “Pedacitos”–this Sunday at the San Jose Museum of Art.

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Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

Anjela is a graduate of San Jose State University. Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Chachalaca Review, Boundless, San Pedro River Review, Insterstice, Pilgrimage Magazine, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature; Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poem; and30Poems for the Tricentennial—A Poetic Legacy. A native Tejana, Anjela lives in Austin, Texas.

Anjela has published several poetry chapbooks, including Jardín de Poesía, and Entre Piedra y Sol. Some of her chapbooks have been archived in the Benson Latin American Collection, at the University of Texas in Austin; and at Michigan State University Libraries’ Special Collections. Her poem, “Merged Mundos,” was a winner of the San Antonio Tricentennial Poetry Contest, and interpreted by a graphics artist for the “30 Poems for the Tricentennial” exhibit. Anjela’s poem, “I Exist,” was animated by Francesca Talenti. Her short story, “In My Classroom,” was published in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul.Several of her poems were winners of the “Poetry With Wheels” contest for Austin Capital Metro. Anjela’s photographic images have appeared in Pilgrimage, San Pedro River Review, riverSedge, About Place Journal, and Interstice. She was the editor of Austin Poetry Society’s MuseLetter. She is also a creative writing workshop presenter.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

My poem “Dear español” was performed in 2018 by Play on Words. I was thrilled by Ivette Deltoro’s excellent job of interpreting it. I decided to submit work for the 2019 POW Terrain theme, and was pleased to have them accept two of my previously published poems for their upcoming live performance.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I have been inspired by numerous poets, including Carmen Tafolla, Naomi Shihab Nye, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Julia Alvarez, Billy Collins, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz, to name a few. Other poets on the contemporary scene whose works I admire include Natasha Trethewey, Tracy K. Smith, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Ada Limón.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I enjoy the works of the world-renowned poet/writer/performer, Dr. Carmen Tafolla (2012-2014 San Antonio Poet Laureate, and 2015-2016 Texas Poet Laureate). Her collection of poetry and prose, Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works,is one of my favorites. Her poem “Marked” was of great importance to me in my early years as a poet. Tafolla also performs a one-woman show with an array of great characters, including “Tia Maria.” I have had the pleasure of seeing Tafolla perform several times over the years, and have always come away deeply moved.

Join us at 2 pm February 24 to see Anjela’s work performed live! Reserve your ticket now to gain free admission to the San Jose Museum of Art and RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’re coming.

Keenan Flagg Chimes for America

What does the American dream mean in 2019? In his epistle to America, writer and actor Keenan Flagg writes that “though your voice is rasped, and your eyes are heavy, I still love you.” We were intrigued by the way the narrator in this prose poem both loves and loathes this complicated country, indicating yet another take on “new terrains.” We’re looking forward to performing his piece, “Chimes,” this upcoming Sunday, February 24, at the San Jose Museum of Art.

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Keenan is a local writer, actor, and activist who believes strongly in the power of words. “Chimes” among other new work attempts to use this power to highlight the disassociation some feel living in this current time of political gridlock and how that feeling can bleed into action.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

When I think of words like migration and movement, I think first of the act of moving, of picking up and leaving, and what that means to a person. Second to that is the act of settling. You moved, you took a leap, you left your home, your comfort zone, etc. but now you have to carve out in unfamiliar terrain a new life for yourself, a new series of patterns. Migration isn’t just leaving for something new, it’s a hard restart and it takes a lot of courage and determination and faith.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I’ve been reading Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Recently, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from sci-fi writers which is kind of odd for poetry, but the depth of language and shear imagination of concepts resonates with me.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Ohio, by Stephen Markley. Amazing piece of historical fiction that really peels back the layers of small-town middle America and examines, in probably a little too much detail, the collapse of the industrial middle class. Also, George Saunders beautiful work Lincoln in the Bardo, this novel is incredible, and everyone should read it. It’s an intense and intimate study of grief and love.

Want to learn more about Keenan? Join us at our New Terrains show on Feb 24. Click here to reserve your tickets, which include free admission to the San Jose Museum of Art! RSVP on Facebook for more details.

 

Call for Submissions: New Terrains

This week marks five years since our first Play On Words show at San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern. With every season, we’ve tried something new–performed at festivals, partnered with Flash Fiction Forum on a chapbook, staged live readings of television shows. This fall, we’re delighted to partner with the San Jose Museum of Art on its upcoming “New Terrains: Migration and Mobility” cross-disciplinary exhibit. We’ve got our first 2019 date on the calendar–Sunday, February 24, from 3-5 pm–which means that we need you, faithful writers and artists, to share your work with us!

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What Does New Terrains Mean to You?

For our February show, we are seeking work that responds to the theme of New Terrains: Migration and Mobility. What does that mean to you? Does new terrain denote geography, movement, space? Could it be a crossing of emotional territory? Or a literal reflection on what it means to move your body, your family, your city?

Send Us Your:

  • fiction (short stories, flash fiction, stand-alone novel excerpts
  • nonfiction (memoir, short essays, meditations and reflections)
  • poetry
  • theatre (one-act plays, sketches, comedy, satire, drama)

For prose pieces, we ask you to cap submissions at 1500 words. Depending on the work of theatre, you can submit something longer if it reads quickly.

Email us your submissions to playonwordssj@gmail.com by December 15 to be considered for our February show.

Join Us for the Exhibition Kick-off: November 15

We’ve been invited to present at the museum’s November 15 partner kickoff, which will feature many of the organizations contributing to the New Terrains exhibit. Mosaic Silicon Valley will offer a number of special performances during the evening. The international creative collective known as RadioEE will roll up to the party with Autopiloto, a marathon radio transmission that will be broadcast while on-the-move in a semi-autonomous vehicle traversing the Bay Area, examining how emerging autopilot/AI technologies are transforming the world. RadioEE will be live streaming their interactions with partner organizations and visitors while at SJMA, as part of their project commissioned by the Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Art Center.

Play On Words will be reading a few show selections at the event. We’ll be there to promote our call for submissions and enjoy an evening of performance, artistry and excitement. We hope to see you there!

Tickets are available on the San Jose Museum of Art website: $5 after 5 pm, free for museum members.

 

 

Laurel Brittan reads Valerie Castro Singer’s “Birthday”

What is going through a mother’s head when she is in labor? We loved Valerie Castro Singer‘s poignant, funny and lovely poem “Birthday,” performed wonderfully by Laurel Brittan at Cafe Stritch on April 11:

Thanks again to Valerie for sharing her words–and to Laurel for loaning us her voice.

Missing POW? We’re gearing up for our August 27 performance at Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre–stay tuned to learn more about the special show we have planned.

Ivette Deltoro reads “Dear español” by Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

The last few months we at Play On Words have been busy behind the scenes, getting ready for some amazing new shows we will be producing later this year. Busy–but not too busy to continue uploading content from our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch! Over the next few weeks you’ll get a chance to enjoy performances by our stellar cast, as recorded by POW social media manager Ryan Alpers.

Today we’re thrilled to share Ivette Deltoro’s performance of “Dear espanol,” a beautiful poem by SJSU alumna, the Texan poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff:

We’re grateful to the amazing writers, performers and volunteers who make our shows happen. Stay tuned for more videos–and for news of our next big project, coming to a theater near you in late August!