When we were planning the lineup for our January 17 show, we staged our pieces in an intentional chronological order. The idea? To show how different generations of activists have grappled with some of the same big questions, year after year, campaign after campaign, president after president. Melinda Marks was proud to perform Cindy Stewart-Rinier’s “Under Trump, No Good Deed,” a poem particularly suited to today’s world:
Hard as it can be to grapple with the challenges of today’s world, we’re glad to promote artists whose work we feel offers a little respite, a little tiny dagger of truth, a gasp of hope in a changing environment. Cindy’s poem is included in our new chapbook, Activate, which you can order here.
We’re still looking for short stories, poems, and plays under 1500 words for our April 11 show. Got something you’re proud of? Send it along as an attachment to email@example.com.
Sometimes nothing is funnier than repeating the words “Dick Cheney.” The amazing Michael Weiland proved that by reading Ken Weisner’s comic poem, “Ghazal,” at our Activists Unite show at Cafe Stritch. Couldn’t make it? Check out Michael’s performance below:
Ken recited some poems and read his own work last week at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum during our chapbook launch party. Want to get your hands on our beautiful new book, designed by Peter Caravalho of Black Kites Press and produced in partnership with the Flash Fiction Forum? Fill out our order form to purchase your own copy!
We’re currently reading submissions for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch–and we need more work! Submit your poems, short stories, and works of theater to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note we cap submissions at 1500 words.
What did you eat for breakfast on November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election? The subject of Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem makes a pretty clear statement: Sometimes you just need pie.
In case you missed her fabulous performance at Cafe Stritch in January, please check out the talented Laurel Brittan performing Mohyuddin’s poem, which was originally published on The Rumpus:
This powerful poem is included in our forthcoming chapbook, Activate, which we will have in hand this Wednesday, February 28, at a special reading at DeAnza College’s Euphrat Museum. Join us from 5-7 pm to hear a number of talented contributors read their work–and preorder your own copy!
While reviewing submissions for our chapbook, Activate, we were struck by the poem “Thirty Pounds in Three Months” by Christine Stoddard. We have been on the lookout for work that reflects the anxiety and challenges of today’s political environment, and Stoddard’s piece sheds light on a reality that many people living in the United States face. We were lucky enough to have the amazing Ivette Deltoro read this live at our Activists Unite show on January 17:
You can hear Ivette reflecting on this performance in our latest episode of the Play On Words POWer Half Hour. We also recommend joining her this weekend at San Jose’s City Lights Theatre for “boom,” a play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. This show represents the hard work of the inaugural Mini Lights Emerging Artists program, which offers experience to up-and-coming theatre professionals.
And because this wouldn’t be a POW blog post without a call for submissions, we want to remind all our faithful fans and friends to submit original fiction, nonfiction, poetry and theatre to email@example.com by March 10 to be considered for our next show.
We are excited to promote the work of writers whose art intersects with activism. Children’s book writer and poet April Halprin Wayland is one such unicorn. April is the author of seven books, including More Than Enough—a Passover Story (Dial) which has been praised by the New York Times, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly; the gold medal-winning picture book, New Year at the Pier—a Rosh Hashanah Story (Dial), and the award-winning novel in poems, Girl Coming in for a Landing (Knopf). She was named UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Outstanding Instructor of the Year, where she has been teaching since 1999. When she is not writing, April plays the fiddle, hikes with her dog, and helps people vote. She blogs at TeachingAuthors.com and is the co-founder of www.AIforC.org, a progressive PAC of 1200 published children’s authors and illustrators.
We can’t wait to perform two of her poems. “My Arms Are Tired,” and “So This is How You Felt” at our Activists Unite show next Wednesday at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. Her poem “My Arms Are Tired” will appear in Activate, the chapbook we are producing in conjunction with San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum.
Recent publications, honors or awards:
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program’s Outstanding Instructor in Creative Writing For the book New Year at the Pier (Dial): • The Sydney Taylor Gold Medal for Younger Readers (best Jewish picture book of the year) • starred review in Publishers Weekly • Tablet Magazine’s Best Book of the Year For the book Girl Coming in for a Landing, a novel in poems (Dial):
The Myra Cohn Livingston Award for poetry given by the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California.
Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor Book for Children’s Poetry, presented by the College of Education and the University Libraries at Penn State University and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.
A Junior Library Guild Selection.
Nominated for a Best Book of the Year for Young Adults by the American Library Association (ALA)
Nominated for the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Six-time winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’Magazine Merit Award for Poetry ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… April’s album, IT’S NOT MY TURN TO LOOK FOR GRANDMA AND OTHER STORIES (which includes five stories, seventeen poems and a fiddle tune) won the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Medal for Storytelling. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
April’s upcoming projects:
Reclaiming our country.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
The dynamite energy of Play on Words and the topic.
Which writers or performers inspire you?
singer/song writer: Joni Mitchell ~ the poetry of her lyrics changed my life
performance: Hamilton ~ for it’s audacity and raw energy and crazy-wonderful word choices
books: Recent: Train I Ride by Paul Mosier, a beautifully crafted, highly original middle grade novel.
My all-time favorite picture book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, which at its core is about being resourceful. This book gave me permission to draw my own world and then step inside it.
Part of our goal in creating Activate, our new chapbook, was to share the sometimes-underrepresented stories of fellow writers and activists. We were moved by Christine Stoddard’s “Thirty Pounds in Three Months,” which details one character’s physical reaction to the 2016 election. We look forward to performing her work at Activists Unite, our January 17 show at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.
Stoddard is a former Annmarie Sculpture Garden artist-in-residence and an M.F.A. DIAP candidate at the City College of New York (CUNY). Her work has appeared in special programs at the New York Transit Museum, the Queens Museum, the Poe Museum, and beyond. She is the author of Water for the Cactus Woman (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing) and the founder of Quail Bell Magazine. Born in Virginia to a Salvadoran mother and American father, Stoddard lives in Brooklyn.
By interviewing artists, writers, and performers from past shows, to learn more about their artistic and creative process, to speak on San Jose, and to shed light on our passions, we endeavor to produce this podcast. Ryan Alpers is the creator, producer, and host of the “Play on Words POWer Half Hour” and will, in the first season, pair recorded segments with the writers, performers, and creators of previous Play on Words shows. Guests include Gary Singh, Melinda Marks, and more!
In the first episode, we talk with Andrew Christian about how he approached writing his poem “Scars,” performed at Cafe Stritch in San Jose, teaching high school English, and how he uses creative writing to empower emerging voices in his classroom. We’re really excited for this, and the upcoming episodes, so stay tuned and tell your friends!
We chose to host our content primarily on Sound Cloud, so take a listen to the POWer Half Hour Podcast. We can’t wait to tell you more, so be sure to follow us on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest #POWPOD updates. Hooray podcasts! Hooray!
Good news, Playonwordsians: We are extending the deadline for the chapbook that we are producing in conjunction with the fabulous Flash Fiction Forum. You’ve got until October 15 to send 500 words of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or theatre to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a brief recap of recent headlines that might trigger a response:
Last week, Trump announced that he plans to rescind the DACA program, which will affect approximately 800,000 students and their families who are working and studying legally in the United States.
Hurricanes like Harvey and Irma displace thousands of families, many of whom may have been previously displaced by Katrina in 2005.
Charlottesville–August 12, 2017, and the rise of neo-Nazism.
Trump’s July announcement to ban transgender citizens from serving in the military.
There are lots of ways to resist and show solidarity with communities whose livelihoods and basic civil rights are at risk. We’re hoping to provide a platform for writers to speak up and speak out.
Attention poets, playwrights, and other creative writers!
Community activists from Play on Words and Flash Fiction Forum are producing a chapbook and want your fiction, poetry, works of theater and creative nonfiction work about activism.
Specifically, we’re interested in the complexities of activism (humorous, tragic, inspiring, or all three), situations that call for activism, pitfalls and rewards of activism, and above all, the personal, unexpected, and inexplicable. We’re interested in stories that move but don’t preach, and shed light on communities or causes that may not make it to the news every day. Help us prove that our words matter–perhaps now more than ever.
In addition to publishing a chapbook in collaboration with Flash Fiction Forum, Play On Words will select a number of the accepted pieces for a corresponding performance in early 2018.