Marilyn Horn’s “Elephant”

Move over, Lloyd Dobler—there’s a new romantic in town, and he’s riding an elephant. The narrator in Marilyn Horn’s “Elephant” reconnects with a high school classmate while wearing pants her ex referred to as her “elephant pants.” We look forward to performing Marilyn’s piece on January 12 at the San Jose Museum of Art, where we will be returning for Play On Words: Beyond Boundaries.

Marilyn is a technical editor in Silicon Valley. Her short stories have appeared in Marathon Review, Blotterature and NonBinary Review, among others, and she also presents at San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum from time to time. A collection of her stories was published in 2016 by Thinking Ink Press.

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Marilyn Horn

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

There’s nothing like hearing the PoW cast bring stories to life. Sometimes when I finish a piece, I automatically think, “This would be a good one for Play on Words,” and then I check the PoW submissions page.

Which writers or performers inspire you?
Lately I can’t stop reading Olga Tokarczuk. Weird, funny and dark. What’s not to love?

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Writing brings up a lot of fear for me. Mostly I’m afraid of what I’ll discover the digger I deep. So the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway has helped a lot. As for performances, I’ll have to go with Liz Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Talk about someone who dug deep. Amazing.

Get your tickets now for our January 12 show at the San Jose Museum of Art to see Marilyn’s work performed. Entrance includes free admission to the museum.

Ann Hillesland’s “Lost Hills”

“No one puts this part of California on postcards,” writes the narrator in Ann Hillesland’s “Lost Hills,” a 14-year-old girl moving cross country with her father. Anything can happen in a Motel 6—and in her case, anything will. Join us on January 12 when we perform this great piece at the Beyond Boundaries show at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Ann Hillesland’s work has been published in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, Bayou, The Laurel Review, Corium, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and presented onstage by Stories On Stage in Denver and Davis. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte. 

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Ann Hillesland

Honors and awards include:

  • “About My Mother” chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions
  • “Pique Assiette” nominated for a Pushcart Prize
  • “Lost Hills,” winner of the Prime Number flash fiction contest
  • “Pale Rider” won the grand prize for prose in Spark contest 8

Recent publications include:

What are you currently working on?

Recently I have been writing a blog, The Hat Project, in which I tell about my life through my large collection of hats, most of which are vintage, and many of which I’ve never worn. It’s an autobiography told through clothing. I’ve been at it almost a year, posting a hat or two a week. It will end when I run out of hats, so I’ll only be at it a few more months, unless I go crazy and buy a bunch more hats. If you’d like to check out the hats and the short essays that accompany them, visit my website.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Play on Words did a piece of mine a while back, and it was so much fun I thought I’d try again 😊.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Alice Munro, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Rick Bass, Lydia Davis.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I recently saw the Aretha Franklin movie Amazing Grace, and was so moved. The love she showed in her singing was astounding. To put so much of yourself into your work, to sing with such purpose. I was crying. We should all sing with such purpose, whatever our art, our aim, our song. 

 Tickets are now available for our Jan. 12 at the San Jose Museum of Art–but they will sell out! Reserve yours now.

 

Ryan Alpers reads Gary Singh’s “Voodoo”

Can you find love in a crossword puzzle? Watch Ryan Alpers perform “Voodoo,” a flash piece by Gary Singh, at our Oct. 19 LitCrawl show at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre:

Since we performed this piece, Gary has published it on Digging Through the Fat. Big thanks to Branden Frederick for taking photos, Cleveland Motley for filming and the kind folks at Stage Werx for making this show happen.

Want more #POWSJ? RSVP now to our January 12 show at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Anshu Johri reads Anniqua Rana’s “Birth Canal”

So much of the joy we get in producing Play On Words shows comes from pairing amazing writers with fabulous performers—often people who have never met, but discover they share artistic passions. Such was the case in October, when local writer and performer Anshu Johri made her POWSJ debut by reading “Birth Canal,” an excerpt of Anniqua Rana’s debut novel, Wild Boar in the Cane FieldHere she is giving a dynamite performance at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre on Oct. 19:

Big thanks to Anshu and Anniqua for contributing their talents to our LitCrawl show, as well as to Branden Frederick for taking photos and Cleveland Motley for capturing it all on film.

Can’t get enough POWSJ? Our next show is coming up on January 12 at the San Jose Museum of Art. Stay tuned to learn more!

Anniqua Rana Returns

How does birth transform us? In “Birth Canal,” an excerpt of Anniqua Rana‘s forthcoming novel, Wild Boar in the Cane Field, the narrator labors alone on the banks of a canal in rural Pakistan. We are delighted to perform Anniqua’s work on October 19 as part of our LitCrawl show at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre. We are excited to work with her again, after reading a different excerpt at our New Terrains show in February. 

anniquaAnniqua lives in California with her husband and two sons, where she teaches English to immigrant and international students at community college. Her extended family lives in Pakistan and England, and she visits them regularly to rekindle my roots. Her debut novel is a celebration of the rural women of Pakistan whose indomitable spirit keeps them struggling despite all odds. 

Anniqua has interviewed Asma Jahangir, Human Right’s Advocate, Pakistan and published essays on gender and education. She is at work on her next novel, A Sanctuary for Dancing Bears. She also produces the podcast Witty Bantr. She kindly answered a few questions for us in advance of our LitCrawl show.

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What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? 

I enjoy the interplay of story writing and storytelling. POW does an excellent job combining the two. And, of course, I’m honored to be selected.  

Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Elena Ferrante and Mohsin Hamid.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you. 

The Meursault Investigation: A Novel.

Intrigued? Check out her launch party at the Bindery in San Francisco on September 17. Don’t forget to RSVP for Play On Words: Live in San Francisco on October 19. 

 

Ronald Feichtmeir reads Michelle Qiao’s “The City Across the River”

On February 24, we were thrilled to perform work by Play On Words’ youngest contributor, eighth grader Michelle Qiao. The multitalented Ronald Feichtmeir closed out our New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art with his performance of “The City Across the River”:

Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos, as well as all of the amazing writers, performers, artists and friends who helped make this show happen. We hope to host more POW shows in the months to come, so stay tuned to learn how you can participate!

Tonya Duncan reads “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel” by Arcadia Conrad

Have you ever had dinner with your late grandparent? How about a drink with your long-dead grandmother? We were taken by Arcadia Conrad’s “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel,” which actor Tonya Duncan knocked out of the park at our Feb. 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for being our trusty photographer. We hope to have another show this summer or fall–contact us if you’re interested in participating!

Nita Lambert reads “Norma” by Michelle Suzann Myers

Sometimes the sacrifices of seeking a better life feel like a catch-22. Just ask “Norma,” the protagonist of Michelle Suzann Myers’ piece, who gives up everything for a better life in California. We were treated to a special performance by Nita Duarte Lambert on February 24 at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Muchísimas gracias to the lovely Nita for this moving reading, to Michelle for sharing her work for us, to Ryan Alpers for filming and to Branden Frederick for taking photos.

Michelle Myers’ “Norma”

Could death be a new terrain? In “Norma,” Michelle Suzann Myers explores the journey one woman makes to create a new life for her family while mourning the loss of her own mother. We were compelled by Michelle’s moving piece and look forward to performing it this Sunday, February 24, at the San Jose Museum of Art.

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Michelle Suzann Myers

Born and raised in San Jose, California, whilst it was still the Valley of the Heart’s Delight, and once more a proud resident, Michelle Suzann Myers supports her meandering writing journey as a bilingual psychotherapist in private practice.  Myers holds degrees from the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University.  After graduating with sociology and English writing degrees from USF, Myers headed to Dallas, Texas as a legal aide for refugees with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She then escaped to Sao Paulo, Brazil for four years, volunteering in support of women and girls. Myers was fortunate enough to learn of social justice, human rights, and mysticism in her early spiritual formation, and still has hope for the loving transformation of this world.

Her story  “Communion on the Road” was published in the anthology, Sanctuary (DarkHouse Books, 2018). She agreed to answer a few questions for us in advance of the show.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
My writing teacher, Lita Kurth, and the wild, witchy, wise women of my Friday morning writing group inspired me to submit my work to Play on Words. Participating in the last performance at Cafe Stritch gave me a new lease on life–just thrilling!
Which writers have inspired you?
Laura Nichols, Ph.D., Kristin Heyer, Ph.D., Mary Oliver, Anne Lamott, Rumi, Hafiz, Barbara Kingsolver, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Join us at 2 pm February 24 to see Michelle’s work performed live! Reserve your ticket now to gain free admission to the San Jose Museum of Art and RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’re coming.