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!

Deadline Extended to October 15

Call for Submissions Alternate DE

Good news, Playonwordsians: We are extending the deadline for the chapbook that we are producing in conjunction with the fabulous Flash Fiction Forum. You’ve got until October 15 to send 500 words of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or theatre to

Not sure where to start? Here’s a brief recap of recent headlines that might trigger a response:

  • Last week, Trump announced that he plans to rescind the DACA program, which will affect approximately 800,000 students and their families who are working and studying legally in the United States.
  • Hurricanes like Harvey and Irma displace thousands of families, many of whom may have been previously displaced by Katrina in 2005.
  • Charlottesville–August 12, 2017, and the rise of neo-Nazism.
  • Trump’s July announcement to ban transgender citizens from serving in the military.

There are lots of ways to resist and show solidarity with communities whose livelihoods and basic civil rights are at risk. We’re hoping to provide a platform for writers to speak up and speak out.

We look forward to reading your work.

“Thirteen,” by Andrew Christian

It’s nearly summer. Love is in the air–and onstage. That’s just one of the reasons we love this poem by writer/teacher Andrew Christian. In case you missed it, here’s Jeremy Ryan’s performance of “Thirteen” from our May 22 show:

Andrew couldn’t join us for Spring Fling because his lovely wife Beth had just delivered their first child, Leo, a mere 48 hours earlier. We like to think that Leo wanted to be in the world in time to hear his father’s poem. Congratulations to our #POW family. Thank you for sharing your words, and thanks to Jeremy for his wonderful interpretation.

Up Close and Personal with Adam Magill’s “Only Customary”

We at Play On Words have developed a taste for the fast, funny and ridiculous sketch. Cue playwright Adam Magill. Last May we produced his piece, “Only Customary,” at the Blackbird. Jeremy Ryan and Brian Van Winkle stole the show; Nicole Hughes and Julia Halprin Jackson made a quick appearance as well. There’s no better way to start your Friday than a little pants-ing action. You’ll see what we mean:

Big thanks to Adam, Jeremy and Brian for their hilarious and well-timed work. We hope you adopt some new, eh, customs, this Friday.


“Ephemera” by Sarah Lyn Rogers

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.


David Wirth’s “Part I” and “Part II”

Last month we were pleased and excited to feature two short-shorts by SJSU alum David Wirth, both performed by  the inimitable Brian Van Winkle. Here’s “Part I”:

And “Part II”:

In his own words, David Wirth has spent the last two years accidentally developing a belly, which only recently got round in a way that can be seen through a t-shirt. Since this development, watching superhero movies has, in terms of his psyche/self-regard, become a challenging experience. Further, David Wirth lives in Salinas, where he is nearly always surrounded by beautiful things, especially in the early morning and late evening, when the light is really nice. He likes words.

Thanks to David and Brian for sharing and performing such interesting work.


Play On Words Premiere is a Success!


Play On Words’ premiere event at San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern was a huge success! We were thrilled to welcome 75 friends and family to the Blackbird’s gorgeous new show space on October 24 to kick off our new literary series. We’re grateful to our writers and performers for their excellent work, and to the gracious Blackbird staff for setting us up with a great stage, cozy tables and stocked bar.


The evening started with a moody contemporary short story by Ryan Alpers entitled “Predecessors.” It was performed by Melinda Marks and Adam Magill.


Our second piece was “Medea,” an original monologue written and performed by Melinda Marks.


Ryan Alpers interpreted an excerpt of Eric Sneathen’s engaging poetry series entitled “Glister.”


Our fourth piece was “Malleus Maleficarum,” a hilarious short play by Adam Magill, performed by Adam, Melinda, Doug York, Brian Van Winkle, and Jimmy Allan.


Jimmy Allan closed out the night with his reading of Leah Griesmann’s short story, “Slave.”

We are so excited by the work we saw performed, as well as our wonderful audience, that we are opening up submissions for our second show, to be scheduled (most likely) in February 2014. If you are a Bay Area writer or performer, and are interested in collaborating with us, please email us at to learn moreWe accept original short fiction, poetry, monologues, 10-minute plays and creative nonfiction that is under 10 pages double spaced. The deadline for our next show is December 15, 2013.


Melinda Marks, Nicole Hughes, and Julia Halprin Jackson at the Blackbird Tavern.