5 Reasons You Should Submit to #POWSJ

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Our sold-out show at the San Jose Museum of Art, February 2019.

Over the last six years, we’ve noticed a trend in two different types of writers: Those eager and excited to send their best work into the world, and those who often plan to submit but claim their work is never “perfect” enough for our performers to interpret. To them we say, there’s a difference between your work being perfect and your work being ready. It can feel like a fine line, because we certainly aren’t interested in reading first (or even second) drafts—we want work that is polished, thoughtful, provocative, surprising, and full of pizazz. But we also want our community to create and produce, get feedback on works in progress and share stories that they think deserve to be told. As we gear up to review submissions for our LitCrawl show this month, we’re offering five reasons you (or the writers in your life) should submit to us:

  1. A professional performer will interpret your work, which means you get to sit back and enjoy the show. No more stage jitters for you!
  2. You will hear your work in a new way. Without your words printed in front of you, you’ll notice innate patterns in your writing that are hard to notice on the page. Believe it or not, you will discover new ideas listening your words being read back to you.
  3. Your work will be presented in conversation with the stories, poems, plays and essays of other writers. When we accept work, we reflect not only on the strength of individual pieces, but how they should be presented as a whole. We spend a lot of time thinking through how the order of pieces can contribute to a greater narrative, and when you get a chance to hear your work presented alongside others, you’ll find that you are in great company.
  4. You will meet new friends and potential collaborators. A number of our contributors have teamed up on joint projects or connected for future collaborations. What better way to meet fellow artists?
  5. You will be joining a very special tribe. Since 2013, we have performed the work of 60 artists—some more than once. Part of our mission at Play On Words is to promote the work of people we believe in, artists who shape our perspectives, and voices who need some time in the spotlight. We always like learning news of previous contributors and make every effort to promote news of books, publications, shows, collaborations, etc., whenever possible.

We produce shows because we believe that your work is important. We believe that for every great poem, surprising story, or funny one-act we’ve produced, there are just as many amazing pieces yet to be discovered. We hope that you will consider trusting us with your work and that you’ll help us spread our call for submissions.

Email your submission of original fiction, nonfiction, theatre or poetry (>1500 words), along with a 20-word bio and a headshot, by June 18 to be considered for our LitCrawl show.

LitCrawl Call for Submissions: Deadline June 18

Five years ago, we had the pleasure of performing in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley as part of LitCrawl, an evening of events hosted by LitQuake, a weeklong literary festival. Today we’re thrilled to share that we will once again participate in the SF LitCrawl, this time at the amazing Stage Werx theatre at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 19.

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Michael Weiland, Melinda Marks and Ryan Alpers performing at Play On Words: Your Words, Our Voices in October 2014. Photo by Michelle Anderson.

We Need Your Words!

We’re looking for fresh, smart, funny, provocative, absurd, thoughtful, goofy, surprising work to perform at this year’s show. We will be curating about 45 minutes of content, which means we’re especially interested in flash pieces, poetry, ten-minute plays—anything that can be performed aloud with gusto. We are looking for:

  • Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, theatre, work in translation accepted under 1500 words.
  • Submit all work to playonwordssj@gmail.com as an attachment or Google doc.

In order for your work to be considered for LitCrawl, you must include the following with your submission:

  • A 20-word bio and head shot.
  • Contact information for day of the event.

Work must be submitted no later than Tuesday, June 18, at 5 p.m. This gives you two weeks to polish off your words and prepare to submit.

Danes in an Alley

Are you ready for a fresh take on Hamlet? Our closing piece at the 2014 Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley was Melinda Marks’ award-winning short play, “Danes in Purgatory,” originally created and performed at San Jose State University’s 48-Hour Play Festival in September. In case you weren’t there to witness it, here are Melinda Marks, Ryan Alpers, Jeremy Ryan and Brian Van Winkle performing her piece:

Feeling inspired? We’re currently seeking submissions for our upcoming shows and would love to read your work! Send submissions <2000 words to playonwordssj@gmail.com.

Kirstin Chen’s “Boys on the Roof”

Happy Monday!

We’re excited to kick off this week by featuring Melinda Marks’ performance of “Boys on the Roof,” a wonderful short piece by fiction writer and regular POW contributor Kirstin Chen. We were lucky enough to read an excerpt of her new novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, back in February, and were delighted to receive this submission in time for our Lit Crawl show. Here’s Melinda “Boys on the Roof” on October 18 in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley:

Thanks, Kirstin, for your beautiful words, and for joining us last weekend! What a treat.

Coming soon, to Clarion Alley…

Play On Words is thrilled to represent South Bay at the 2014 LitCrawl in San Francisco on October 18! This show celebrates our one-year-anniversary as a collaborative reading series–and as such, we’ve curated an exciting show that showcases some of our most frequent contributors:

Leah GriesmannLeah Griesmann‘s stories have recently appeared in Union Station, The Cortland Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The Weekly Rumpus, and PEN Center USA’s The Rattling Wall. A 2010-2011 Steinbeck Fellow in Fiction, she is the recipient of a 2013 DAAD grant in fiction and a 2014 MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She is currently at work on a collection of stories.

Jimmy Allan read Leah’s story “Slave” at our October 2013 premiere. We will be performing an excerpt of her story “The Unigirl” in San Francisco.

Kirstin Chen is the author of Soy SaKirstin Chenuce for Beginners. A former Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing, she holds an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Stanford University. She has received awards from the Sewanee and Napa Valley writers’ conferences. Her short stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Hobart, Pank and others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best New American Voices. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently lives in San Francisco, where she’s at work on her second novel, set on a tiny island off the coast of southern China in 1958.

Melinda Marks performed an excerpt of Soy Sauce for Beginners at our February 2014 show. (You can watch it here!) We will be performing her short story “Boys on the Roof” in October.

Brian Van WinkleBrian Van Winkle graduated from Southern Oregon University with a B.S. in Theatre Arts. He is a member of the Pacifica Table Readers. We performed Brian’s play “The Way I Picture it in My Head Is…” in February, and it was such a big hit that we are bringing it with us to San Francisco. He is a regular POW performer.

Nicole Hughes

Nicole Hughes completed an MFA in fiction writing from San Jose State University. Her story “Impasto Portrait” was published in Liebamour. As an MFA student, she was awarded the 2011 Ann Lillis Creative Writing Scholarship and the 2009 and 2011 James Phelan Literary Award. Nicole is one of POW’s three co-founders and the current events manager at Kepler’s Books. We’re thrilled to see her perform “Illimitable Space” in October.

Melinda MarksMelinda Marks has performed in the Bay Area for over 20 years, and has more recently begun trying her hand as a writer of short plays and as a director. She holds a BA from UCSC in Theater with an emphasis in dramaturgy, and an MA from San Jose State in Theater Studies. She will be performing her own translation of Dante’s short poems in October. As POW’s casting director, she has performed in every show. Check out our YouTube page to see a sampling of Melinda’s performances.

Julia Halprin JacksonJulia Halprin Jackson has an MA in fiction from UC Davis. She has received scholarships to the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshops and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Her work has appeared in West Branch Wired, California Northern, Fourteen Hills, Flatmancrooked, Sacramento News & Review, Fictionade, Fiction365, Catalyst and Spectrum. She will be reading a selection of 100-word-stories at our LitCrawl event–and as a POW co-founder, she is thrilled to bring South Bay writers to San Francisco.

Ryan Alpers

Ryan Alpers teaches English and journalism in San Jose. He has a B.A. in literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a teaching credential from San Jose State University. While studying at the College of Creative Studies, he was published in the CCS Literary Magazine “Spectrum” and awarded the CCS Brancart-Richardson Award for fiction. A regular POW performer and contributor, he will be reading a few pieces for the October show.

Jeremy RyanJeremy Ryan is a POW actor who has performed as Chester “Cosmo” Collier in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play! at Broadway By The Bay. Other favorite roles include Biff Loman in Death Of A Salesman (Broadway West,) Dennis Shepard/Aaron McKinney in The Laramie Project (Foothill Theatre,) and Chevalier Danceny in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dragon Theatre.) Jeremy is a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory. You can watch his performance of Adam Magill’s “Only Customary” here. He will be performing at our October show.

So…what are you waiting for? Swing by the Mission District’s Clarion Alley on Saturday, October 18 at 6pm to check out our one-year-anniversary show!