We “Rode a Bus” at Anne & Mark’s

Last month we took over the Spoken Word Lounge at Anne & Mark’s Art Party for an hour. Ryan Alpers read Gary Singh’s poem, “I Ride a Bus to the Suburbs in the Searing Heat” as part of our Best Of Mashup show. In case you missed it:

Many thanks to Gary, current Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University, for loaning us his words yet again.

Want to be a part of future shows? Email us at playonwordssj@gmail.com to learn more.

We “Audition” at Anne & Mark’s Art Party

Last month we were thrilled to perform a Best Of Mashup show at Anne & Mark’s Art Party, a wonderful event at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. We followed an awesome open mic at the Spoken Word Lounge, which included live music by the Mountain and the Moon. We kicked off the evening with a recreation of Brian Van Winkle’s “Audition,” as performed by Michael Weiland, Ivette Deltoro, and Adam Weinstein:

Many thanks to everyone who joined us on September 24! If you are interested in participating in future shows, please email us at playonwordssj@gmail.com. We are at work on a podcast using audio and video from past shows.

Anne & Mark’s Art Party 2016


We’re delighted to announce that after our hiatus, we will be presenting a best-of Play On Words show at Anne & Mark’s Art Party on September 24. This tremendous opportunity is afforded to us by our friends at San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum. Here’s what you need to know about this one-of-a-kind experience:

  • Anne & Mark’s Art Party: An Occasional and Irrational Art Fest is a week-long celebration of art at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Every year this exhibition gets bigger and more fabulous, showcasing art in all its forms.
  • The Art Party covers 34K square feet of interior gallery space for visual art
  • 300+ artists including visual, music, dance, fire, art cars, spectacle, spoken word, live painting, film and fashion
  • Food trucks and bars

Play On Words will be presenting original work on Saturday, September 24, the first night of the week’s festivities. Over the next few weeks we will be releasing more information about the show, which will be a mashup of our most popular performances.

Interested in joining in the fun? Buy your Art Party tickets here and get ready to explore a whole world of fun.




Keiko O’Leary’s Dreams

Well, Playonwordsians, we did it: we powered through New Year Nouveau. Thanks to everyone who joined us last night in person and online. We wanted to introduce you to one of our new contributors, Keiko O’Leary, whose piece, “The Golden Beauty of Carlina Johansen, Author of Milliner’s Dreams,” was performed last night by Alex Draa.

Keiko O’Leary

Keiko writes short stories, primarily flash fiction. She also organizes the almost-weekly writing group Write to the End. She is a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

I’m proud to have participated in the Flash Fiction Forum’s first annual pubcrawl, where I read my flash piece “The Ghost of Ice Cream.” My story “White Mice” was also chosen for a Flash Fiction Forum. “White Mice” is available from Thinking Ink Press as a postcard that includes my original artwork Warning: Narrative Hazard. (Okay, I also make visual art. But shh! Don’t tell anyone.)

 Upcoming projects:

Since 2004 I’ve organized Write to the End, a writing group that meets most Tuesday nights. Anyone is welcome. Please visit http://writetotheend.com for details on how to attend. There you can also read articles about writing by members of our group.

Thinking Ink Press is looking for submissions. We consider any length or genre, but I’m especially interested in flash pieces for our postcards and Instant Books, since I design those. (Instant Books are small books folded from a single sheet of paper. They’re so exciting! Have you seen the one we did for Betsy Miller’s Play On Words story “Bees”?) Please see our call for submissions and our flash fiction publishing formats.

 What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love things like Play On Words. I found out about Play On Words because Thinking Ink Press launched the Instant Book of Betsy Miller’s “Bees” at Take Flight when Adam Magill read “Bees.”

And I’ll tell you a secret: When I was revising “Carlina Johansen,” I imagined it being performed, and I made my decisions with performance in mind. Seeing a Play On Words show inspired me to do that.

 Which writers or performers inspire you?

It took me years to figure out that lead roles in Kate & Leopold, X-Men, and The Prestige were all played by the same actor: Hugh Jackman. I saw him in performance at the Curran Theatre, and even though I was in the VERY BACK row of a completely sold out house, the experience was like having coffee one-on-one. Now that’s skill! I aspire to write as well, and as intimately, as Hugh Jackman performs.

As for writers, I’ll mention Julio Cortázar. I read him in Spanish, and he writes like he’s making love to the reader. His command of syntax is insane – he can control you completely just by the structure of his sentences. I don’t know what the English translations are like, but he has a great (flash fiction!) piece called “Continuidad de los parques” (translated as “Continuity of Parks”). One of my favorite longer pieces is “La autopista del sur” (translated as “The Southern Thruway”).

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I read Waiting for Godot in high school, and do I dare say I fell in love? I’ve since seen a few performances, and it always makes me laugh and feel understood, and it leaves me completely obsessed with the text. Even though I haven’t read or seen it for years, little phrases bubble up into my life from time to time: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” “There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.” The funniest part is where Pozzo makes Lucky “think” and Lucky spouts all sorts of repetitive and disjointed but conceptually connected phrases that seem to follow the structure of some sort of a logical argument. Just the rhythm of it is enough to cause uncontrollable giggling. I know there’s a lot of meaning to be found in that speech, but it’s also just plain fun. I’m sure Beckett had a blast writing that part.

Thank you for the opportunity to think about these things I love. I can’t wait to reread the pieces I’ve mentioned here. And I can’t wait to see the next Play On Words!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newslettertweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s “Neighbor”


At Play On Words, we love it when we meet writers we love who, in turn, introduce us to writers they love. We call it the transitive power of awesomeness. We learned about Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s work through San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, and were delighted to perform a few of her flash fiction pieces last summer at our Words & Music show. We’re delighted to read her piece, “Neighbor,” this Wednesday at New Year Nouveau at Cafe Stretch. We hope you can join us.

Marilyn is a technical editor in Silicon Valley.

m horn (1)
Marilyn Horn-Fahey

Publications, Honors or Awards:

My stories have appeared in Switchback, Fine Linen and Marathon Review, among others. Learn more at marilynhornwriting.com.

Upcoming projects:

Thinking Ink Press will publish a collection of my stories in 2016.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

POW performed two of my stories in July 2015. There’s nothing quite like hearing your words interpreted by others! I’m hooked.

 Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

The War of Art. Anyone who faces resistance when trying to write should read it. Resistance is such a jerk!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!


Flash Fiction Forum’s Literary Pub Crawl

Join us this Sunday for San Jose’s first ever Literary Pub Crawl, organized by Tania Martin and Lita Kurth, the masterminds behind SJ’s Flash Fiction Forum, as well as past participants in POW shows.

There are four main stages of the event, all located in San Jose’s SOFA district:

We hope to see you there.

5 Reasons Why YOU Should Submit To Our January Show

We get it–the holidays are approaching. In San Jose, we are welcoming this newfangled thing called “weather.” The desire to stay inside and nurse a mug of hot cocoa is very hard to resist. Why not, while you’re cozy inside, polish up that draft you’ve been working on and send it along to us at Play On Words? Our next show is quickly approaching–January 6 at Cafe Stritch–and we need producible work by December 1. In case you’re still on the fence, here are five reasons you should submit to us:

  1. Because you’ll get to hear your own words read back to you. As a writer at any stage of your career, there are few things more valuable than hearing your own characters, your own dialogue, your own descriptions, interpreted through the lens of an actor. You might hear laughs in the crowd where you weren’t expecting them–or moments of thoughtful reflection as the audience takes in your work. It can be a very gratifying experience.

    Join us
    Submit to our January show at Cafe Stritch!
  2. You’ll learn something about the way you write. When a writer reads his or her own work aloud, there is an implicit relationship with the words. You know what you were trying to say when you wrote the words, so when you read it aloud, you invoke that meaning. However, when you hear someone else read it, you might find hidden meaning. You might realize that while you thought your story was about one thing, it’s actually about something else entirely–something worth exploring.
  3. You’ll be exposed to the work of a community of writers and artists. When we produce shows, we work really hard to curate a lineup that creates its own narrative. We like to intersperse poetry with short stories, plays and monologues, to give the evening the feeling of its own theatrical mix tape. When you participate in a Play On Words show, you get to hear what your work sounds like as part of an entire evening’s performance, book-ended with the work of your neighbors, friends and colleagues.
  4. You’ll make great friends and meet potential collaborators. One of the very best outcomes of a Play On Words show is introducing talented artists to each other–friends who can introduce each other to their favorite writers, artists, musicians and poets.
  5. Great food, great drinks, great company, great work. What else do you need?

Adam WeinsteinWe hope to read your work soon. We’re accepting submissions of fiction and nonfiction under 2000 words, poems, and short plays through December 1. Submissions can be emailed to us at playonwordssj@gmail.comThanks for taking a chance on us–you won’t regret it.

Call for Submissions: Deadline December 1

Adam Magill, Brian Van Winkle, Melinda Marks and Julia Halprin Jackson at our July show in San Jose's St. James Park.
Adam Magill, Brian Van Winkle, Melinda Marks and Julia Halprin Jackson at our July show in San Jose’s St. James Park.

Deadline December 1

Big news: Our next show has been confirmed for Wednesday, January 6, at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. We need solid content to produce–and so of course we are turning to you first.

We are looking for:

  • 5-10 minute plays
  • fiction & nonfiction under 2000 words
  • poetry

If you’ve got something that you feel fits the bill, email it to us as an attachment at playonwordssj@gmail.com.

Other fun stuff:

  • We are seeking day-of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with us, kindly check out our volunteer survey.
  • Feel free to forward this call to all the fabulous artists in your life or post the details to your social media. We love meeting new artists.