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.
Podcast alert! Our ninth episode is special because it features Ivette Deltoro and Erin Southard of the Mini Lights Emerging Artist program, Play On Words’ community partner. Listen to Ryan Alpers interview Ivette about performing “Thirty Pounds in Three Months” by Christine Stoddard at our January 17 show–and get the scoop on Mini Lights, a new series in San Jose designed to support young theatre professionals as they learn to cast, direct, fundraise, and market their own productions. Pretty amazing, right?
Listen to this special episode on SoundCloud or subscribe, rate and review in iTunes.
Mini Lights’ first show, “boom” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, debuts next Thursday, February 22, at City Lights Theatre in San Jose. Directed by POW co-founder and casting director Melinda Marks, it features Play On Words cast members April Culver and Michael Weiland. In other words: this is a show you won’t want to miss. Tickets are on sale here.
Speaking of great art: Play On Words is currently seeking short works of fiction, nonfiction, theatre and poetry for our April 11th show. We want to read your work! Email us submissions at email@example.com.
We had a wonderful time reading selections from our forthcoming chapbook, Activate, at Cafe Stritch on January 17. Couldn’t make it? Not to worry. Check out the wonderful Keenan Flagg performing Tarn Wilson’s “My Father Refuses to Attend his Commencement, May 1968”:
Good news: We’re currently reading submissions for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch. Got something to share? Send along your poetry, fiction, nonfiction and works of theatre to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
We at Play On Words are always delighted to follow the careers of previous contributors, writers and artists. That’s one of the reasons why we were excited when Leah Griesmann answered our call for submissions for Activate, the chapbook we are producing in conjunction with San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum and other local community activists.
In addition to being one of our first featured writers, Griesmann has has received grants and residencies for her fiction from the MacDowell Colony, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, Seoul Art Space Yeonhui, the Key West Writers’ Workshops, the DAAD (Berlin), and the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University. Her fiction has been read or performed at Sacramento Stories on Stage, Lit Quake San Francisco, PEN Center USA, the New Short Fiction Series in North Hollywood, and the Shanghai American Center.
She was kind enough to answer some questions about her latest contribution to Play On Words.
What inspired “Before the War?”
It’s a flash fiction piece, and takes place in a fictional world, but the kernel of the idea came from attending the march against the Iraq War in San Francisco some time after September 11th. The protestors I interacted with knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the march was going to have no impact on the war. The most vehement protestors disputed the idea that the U.S. was a representative democracy, or that human actions would have any impact on the machine. And yet, there everyone was, marching. Many were marching out of a sense of personal responsibility, or even futility, rather than hope that the protest would make a real change. Years later, even before the Trump era, those thoughts and feelings of futility have often filled my mind as well. It’s hard not to give into them. Still, the idea that people show up to make their voices heard, putting their bodies and livelihood on the line, is powerful, and one of the most hopeful things I can think of. As a fiction writer, this type of tension and contradiction interests me.
Do you have any personal experience with activism?
In the U.S. I have attended marches and protests, and have been active with several causes, including National Adjunct Walkout Day. There’s a strange tension I feel within the U.S.—the fact that Americans think we can make a difference, that we can see victories of activism here and there, but also incredible setbacks, and the difficulty to create lasting change. Sometimes activism can seem like a band-aid on a broken system while the system’s injustices just continue. Recently I’ve been living outside the U.S., and have been able to witness successful activism in in other forms. In South Korea for example, citizens brought down their corrupt president through week after week of candle light protests. It’s always inspiring to see activism succeed—to see people unite rather than fight, within their own power.
What do you think about Play on Words San Jose’s plan to read your piece?
I am always excited to hear what actors bring to a piece. I write characters with a certain image or voice in mind, then am amazed when performers bring their own interpretations and talent to them. Speaking for my own work, I think the dramatic power of the written word is best achieved when the works are read by actual actors.
Want to hear Leah’s work performed live? Join us next Wednesday, January 17, at Cafe Stritch! Learn more on our Facebook event page.