One exciting trend emerged while we were reading submissions for our Activists Unite show: We noticed writers responding to similar themes regardless of era. Among our chapbook submissions we were excited to stumble across an excerpt of Tarn Wilson’s memoir, which included a 1968 letter that her father had written to his university administration. Keenan Flagg will be reading this letter, as well as her interpretation of it, tomorrow night at Cafe Stritch.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm (Ovenbird Books: Judith Kitchen Select, 2014) about her childhood with her hippy parents in the Canadian wilderness. Her essays appear in Brevity, Defunct,Gulf Stream, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, J Journal, River Teeth, Ruminate, South Loop Review, and The Sun, among others. She is a graduate of the Rainier Writing Workshop and a co-founder of Creator Schools, which offers writing courses for innovative Bay Area teens and adults. She is currently at work on a new memoir, How to Become the Second Most Popular Girl in the Sixth Grade.
She also directs and teaches at the Creator School. She shared some insight into this piece with us.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? It has been so inspiring poking around your website. What a fantastic gift you have given writers and the community! (And I’ve loved your performances I’ve seen.) Thanks for all your efforts.
What inspired you to write “My Father Refuses to Attend his Commencement, May 1968”? “My Father Refuses” is a letter I found after in some files after my father’s death. I love it because is so perfectly encapsulates the earnest, sometimes naive activism of ’60s. I find it both charming and maddening. I included it in my memoir the Slow Farm, about what it was like living with hippie parents in the wilds of British Columbia.
I am a local high school creative writing teacher.
We hope you can join us tomorrow at Cafe Stritch to see her work performed–and to preorder our chapbook, Activate!
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.
To clarify: Ivette Deltoro read “Cardio Tai Chi” by Sarah Lyn Rogers at our Best of Mashup show at Anne & Mark’s Art Party on September 24. Watch the footage now to experience the Spoken Word Lounge with us:
Thanks to Sarah Lyn Rogers for sharing her story with us once more, and to Ivette for performing with us! If you’re interested in participating in future shows, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com to learn more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We are at work on a podcast using audio and video from past shows.
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.
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 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.)
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!
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.
Publications, Honors or Awards:
My stories have appeared in Switchback, Fine Linen and Marathon Review, among others. Learn more at marilynhornwriting.com.