Today we share our final video from our January 17 show at Cafe Stritch: the inimitable Arcadia Conrad reading two poems by award-winning writer, activist and educator April Halprin Wayland. It was important for us to close our Activists Unite show on hopeful note–to show that though some struggles for justice take generations to gain traction, the legacy of the fight endures.
Many thanks to the many artists, writers and activists who made our January 17 show possible. We are grateful to you for loaning us your words and your talent–and we hope you submit this week to our April 11 show!
Anyone interested in purchasing Activate, our new chapbook produced in partnership with Lita Kurth, Tania Martin, Maria Judnick and Peter Caravalho, may place an order here.
And finally, to all our fellow activists: We’re here to carry your sign.
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.
One of the reasons we encourage writers to participate in Play On Words is to hear what it sounds like to have an actor interpret their work aloud. Even if the writer is a practiced and comfortable reader–or even a fellow actor, such as the inimitable Arcadia Conrad–there is such value to be had in hearing someone else meditate on one’s work. We were lucky enough to have the amazing Laurel Brittan perform Arcadia’s thought-provoking piece, “308 on 308,” at our Activists Unite show on January 17:
“308 on 308” is just one of the 28 pieces we have included in Activate, our forthcoming chapbook produced in conjunction with Flash Fiction Forum. We’re thrilled to have a few copies of this book in hand tonight at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum, where a number of #powsj and Flash Fiction Forum readers will be reading their own work at 5 pm. Hope to see you there!
What does activism look like in the 21st century? Leah Griesmann’s flash piece, “Before the War,” offers one street-level perspective. We were delighted to include her work in our January 2018 show at Cafe Stritch–as performed by the magnificent Ivette Deltoro–as well as in our forthcoming chapbook, which you will be able to check out in person tomorrow night at DeAnza’s Euphrat museum.
Until then, however, we hope you enjoy Ivette’s performance from last month:
Want to participate in our next show? We’re reading submissions for our April 11 show through March 10. Email us your original fiction, theatre, nonfiction and poetry as attachments to email@example.com. We look forward to reading your work!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by March 10 to be considered for our next show.
What happens when you mix revolution with poetry? An ekphrastic story by Lita Kurth, perhaps? Today we are excited to feature Melinda Marks’ January 17 performance of Lita’s “Roque Dalton, Salvador”:
This piece is one of 28 included in Activate, our chapbook produced in conjunction with San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, Maria Judnick, and designer Peter Caravalho. Want to learn more about this great project? Join us next Wednesday, February 28, at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum of Art at 5 pm.
Tonight’s the night! We are thrilled to be performing 10 original pieces inspired by activism to San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. We will be performing work in chronological order, starting with “Dressed for Success,” an excerpt of a memoir-in-progress by writer Lyra Halprin. We first performed Lyra’s work in July 2015, when her piece “Drive, She Said,” introduced us to the California highway in the late 1960s. We were drawn to the way she shares implicit messages about humanity by showing what it means to demonstrate at any age. For Lyra, to write about one’s family is in itself a political act. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, her process and “Dressed for Success,” which will be included in Activate, our forthcoming chapbook.
Tell us about your writing.
I’m a former reporter and UC public information person now trying to harness my holy writing gears and transform essays and journal entries into a book about a girl growing up a feminist in California in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. My manuscript feels more urgent in the wake of the frightening political reality of the last year and the birth of my first granddaughter. I am reminded that members of my family perished in the Holocaust and family and friends were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era but I grew up in a vibrant activist household filled with hope and optimism. I want to share that with my daughter, son, granddaughter and other young people and show them that art, music and progressive action can thrive during chaotic political times. I believe the secret to staying happy in this crazy world is having a big humor gene, people you love and a soft dog.
My commentaries have aired on NPR, Capital Public Radio, and KQED San Francisco, and appeared in newspapers, magazines and online venues.
A story about my dad and his art professor Chiura Obata was featured in the literary journal California Northern in Memoir: The Sequoia in the Storm: Family, memory, and Chiura Obata’s art of resilience. Other stories have appeared in the Sacramento News and Review, and the Santa Monica Daily Press, including one in which I described growing up as Jewish child during a time when released-time religious education trailers were parked outside elementary schools and Nativity scenes were displayed in public parks. My commentary on NPR’s Day to Day described wearing my daughter’s insulin pump for a day.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
I was thrilled to hear the focus of this show and chapbook was Activism, something near and dear to my heart. I want to share my enthusiasm and joy in the arts and how they can both thrive and produce change during times of oppression.
Which writers or performers inspire you?
Doris Haddock, aka Granny D, whose walk across the country at the age of 88-90 to champion campaign finance reform inspires me daily. I was lucky enough to hear her speak about her journey and treasure her memoir, Granny D: You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell, in which she describes the beautiful landscape of our country as she tells the story of her life and the importance of citizen activism.
Gloria Steinem and her dogged pursuit of equality and social justice mixed with stories about life as a woman and how we help each other survive.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose bookBetween The World And Me reminded me of the honor and importance of writing to inspire our children.
Alexandra Fuller, whose memoir Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight showed me another way to put a story together.
Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
I listened to the audiobook recording of The Book Thief and was floored again how art can move and inspire me. I hope the Flash Fiction/POW chapbook on activism does the same!
Join us at 7 pm at Cafe Stritch tonight to see Arcadia Conrad perform Lyra’s work live. Hope to see you there!