By interviewing artists, writers, and performers from past shows, to learn more about their artistic and creative process, to speak on San Jose, and to shed light on our passions, we endeavor to produce this podcast. Ryan Alpers is the creator, producer, and host of the “Play on Words POWer Half Hour” and will, in the first season, pair recorded segments with the writers, performers, and creators of previous Play on Words shows. Guests include Gary Singh, Melinda Marks, and more!
In the first episode, we talk with Andrew Christian about how he approached writing his poem “Scars,” performed at Cafe Stritch in San Jose, teaching high school English, and how he uses creative writing to empower emerging voices in his classroom. We’re really excited for this, and the upcoming episodes, so stay tuned and tell your friends!
We chose to host our content primarily on Sound Cloud, so take a listen to the POWer Half Hour Podcast. We can’t wait to tell you more, so be sure to follow us on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest #POWPOD updates. Hooray podcasts! Hooray!
Play On Words: Spring Fling featured a number of San Jose State students, both undergrad and grad students. We were excited to recruit Tiffany Viorge, SJSU Theater major, to read Sarah Lyn Rogers’ piece, “Ephemera.” A mere 24 hours after reading this lyrical piece, Tiffany graduated from college. Talk about an exciting week.
Sarah Lyn Rogers is an MFA candidate at SJSU, where her emphases are fiction and poetry. She was this year’s recipient of the Academy of American Poets – Virginia de Araujo prize for her poem, “Rat Race.” When she’s not writing, Sarah is a mentor and copyeditor for Society of Young Inklings, and the assistant fiction editor for The Rumpus. She also performs original songs with Elflock.
Brian Van Winkle’s ten minute play (which he also starred in), “The Way I Picture it In My Head Is,” was a big hit at our February show. Brian is a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon where he received a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts with a minor in Shakespeare Studies. He is also a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory and a member of the Pacifica Table Readers.
In addition to his play, Brian has performed at POW in Melinda Marks’ “Menage A Un” and Adam Magill’s one-act play “Malleus Maleficarum.” He agreed to share some thoughts with us on his writing and performance experience.
POW: What did it feel like to have your words performed aloud? Was this the first time you saw someone interpret your work? What did you learn about your own writing?
BVW: It has been such a privilege to have my work performed by Play on Words. Though this is not my first time having my work performed for an audience, the experience is always beneficial. There is no better way to improve one’s writing than to see how it is interpreted by other people. Seeing other people create something out what you have made allows you to take it in as a separate entity from yourself. You can see what in your piece works and what doesn’t based on how the audience reacts to it. There is little I can think of more thrilling and encouraging than when a desired reaction lands with a crowd just as you want it to–and if a certain idea is not coming through clear enough, it will become obvious by the way that it is portrayed. I am very grateful that there are outlets such as this so that new works can continually be developed and improved for aspiring artists.
POW: What was it like to perform a piece knowing that the writer was in the room? How did you prepare? How did this experience make you feel about your own writing/creating process?
BVW: It’s a pleasure to be able to give new writers a voice for their work. In an environment such as this, where we are able to interact directly with the authors, we are able to better prepare a piece in the way that it is intended to be performed. Being directly involved with the artists is a great way to help develop their work as well as gain skills to help hone one’s own abilities.
Our February show highlighted the work of noted journalist and Silicon Valley arts regular Gary Singh. Singh is an award-winning journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints, and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he has published hundreds of works as either a staff writer or freelancer, including travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, short fiction and poetry. For 450 straight weeks he’s also penned a creative newspaper column for Metro, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper, an offbeat glimpse into the frontiers of the human condition in Silicon Valley. He is a sucker for anything that fogs the opposites of native and exotic, luxury and the gutter, academe and the street.
This week we asked Singh what it felt like to hear his poem, “Here,” read aloud by Ryan Alpers at the Blackbird Tavern on February 13.
“Hearing and seeing my poem performed by someone else brought a new dimension to my creativity,” he said. “The actor brought inflections and emotions into the poem that I didn’t even know existed. The experience gave me some confidence that I didn’t know existed either. I would highly recommend anyone to submit their work for this series.”
In case you missed it, here’s Ryan’s performance of Singh’s poem:
Feeling inspired? There’s still time to submit for our May 22 show! We accept works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and theater under 2000 words. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.