April Reclaims America

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

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Six-time winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Magazine Merit Award for Poetry
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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.
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8-2017 AHW with BE KIND sign after rally in solidarity with Charlottesville 8-2017
April Halprin Wayland

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.

As the writer Nikos Kazantzakis said, “You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go.

 

Want to see April’s work performed live? Join us on Wednesday, January 17, for Activists Unite at Cafe Stritch.

Christine Stoddard

Part of our goal in creating Activate, our new chapbook, was to share the sometimes-underrepresented stories of fellow writers and activists. We were moved by Christine Stoddard’s “Thirty Pounds in Three Months,” which details one character’s physical reaction to the 2016 election. We look forward to performing her work at Activists Uniteour January 17 show at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

Stoddard is a former Annmarie Sculpture Garden artist-in-residence and an M.F.A. DIAP candidate at the City College of New York (CUNY). Her work has appeared in special programs at the New York Transit Museum, the Queens Museum, the Poe Museum, and beyond. She is the author of Water for the Cactus Woman (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing) and the founder of Quail Bell Magazine. Born in Virginia to a Salvadoran mother and American father, Stoddard lives in Brooklyn. 

Christine Stoddard Headshot CroppedHer publications, honors and awards include:

  • Folio Magazine’s top 20 media visionaries in their 20s for founding Quail Bell Magazine.
  • Laberinto Projects Summer 2017 Visiting Artist, Coatepeque, El Salvador
  • 2012 Puffin Foundation National Emerging Artist Grant

Her upcoming projects include:

On February 2, her film & video show “Lady Pandora” will be at the FiveMyles Gallery in Brooklyn.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I’ve really been eager to have my work performed again. This seemed like the place!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

bell hooks, David Sedaris, Ada Limón, Joan Didion

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Want to hear Christine’s work read aloud? Join us January 17 at Cafe Stritch!

Play on Words Podcast: The POWer Half Hour

POWartPODBy 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!

Andrew Christian
Andrew Christian

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!

Call for Submissions: Activist Chapbook

Attention poets, playwrights, and other creative writers!

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Community activists from Play on Words and Flash Fiction Forum are producing a chapbook and want your fiction, poetry, works of theater and creative nonfiction work about activism.

Specifically, we’re interested in the complexities of activism (humorous, tragic, inspiring, or all three), situations that call for activism, pitfalls and rewards of activism, and above all, the personal, unexpected, and inexplicable. We’re interested in stories that move but don’t preach, and shed light on communities or causes that may not make it to the news every day. Help us prove that our words matter–perhaps now more than ever.

In addition to publishing a chapbook in collaboration with Flash Fiction Forum, Play On Words will select a number of the accepted pieces for a corresponding performance in early 2018.

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION:

  • Deadline for submission is August 31, 2017.
  • Please limit submissions to 500 words.
  • Email submissions to activistchapbook@gmail.com

ATTENTION ARTISTS:

  • We are also seeking black and white artwork that speaks to these themes. Submissions can be emailed to activistchapbook@gmail.com. 

 

We “Rode a Bus” at Anne & Mark’s

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 playonwordssj@gmail.com to learn more.

Gary Singh’s Day in Question

Play On Words fans will surely recognize Gary Singh’s signature poetic style–declarative, language-focused, narrative poems. In case you missed it on July 14, watch the unbeatable Adam Weinstein perform two of Gary’s poems, starting with “”On a Mattress Above a Supermarket in the Capital of Silicon Valley”:

Here’s Adam reading Gary’s second piece, entitled “The Day in Question”:

Gary Singh is an award-winning travel journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he’s published nearly 1000 works including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. His poems have been published in The Pedestal Magazine, Dirty Chai, Maudlin House and more. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press).

Keenan Flagg’s Spinning Mythologies

What’s it mean to be a moth to a flame? Keenan Flagg’s piece “Spun Mythologies” paints a new picture of metamorphosis. We’re excited to produce it at our Words&Music show this Tuesday at San Jose’s St. James Park.

Keenan Flagg
Keenan Flagg

Keenan studied Creative Writing and Poetry at the University of Puget Sound and is currently enrolled in the Writing Program at San Jose State. When not writing or composing, his hobbies include live theater, picnics, salsa dancing, and distance running.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I enjoy being a part of the local artistic community. The value of this organization far transcends that of simply providing artistic exposure; it creates a place for writers and performers alike to network, share ideas, and then regurgitate those ideas back into the laps of friendly and enduring audiences.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Adrienne Rich, Robert Frost, Gary Snyder, and Hoa Nguyen are a few of my favorite poets. Anis Mojgani and Taylor Mali are two of my favorite spoken word performers.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac; Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs; and The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall because they each caused me to reevaluate the changing landscape of written language.

This is made possible through the generosity of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association.

Ryan Alpers Reads “Scars”

Play On Words fans will recognize Andrew Christian’s name from when we performed his poem “Thirteen” in May 2014 at Blackbird Tavern. He was unable to join us because his son Leo was born that very day–Leo didn’t want to miss the show. This spring, Ryan Alpers performed Andrew’s poem “Scars” at Cafe Stritch. Leo was there too:

We’re also hijacking this post to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYAN. We heart your voice.

Don’t forget: We’re accepting submissions for our July 14th show til midnight TONIGHT! Email us your submissions at playonwordssj@gmail.com

The Return of Gary Singh

If you’re an artist in Silicon Valley, you know Gary Singh. Hell, if you’re a Play On Words fan, you know Gary. We were thrilled to produce one of his poems last winter (you can watch it here), and we’re excited to read not one but two of his newer pieces this June at Cafe Stritch. “Sirs Parchment” will be appearing in the May 2015 issue of Maudlin House and “”I Ride a Bus Out to the Suburbs in the Searing Heat” is in the Spring 2015 issue of the Scapegoat Review.

Gary Singh
Gary Singh

Gary Singh is an award-winning travel journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he’s written nearly 1000 works including travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. Every week for ten years, he’s penned the Silicon Alleys column for Metro, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy. You can learn more about him at http://www.garysingh.info.