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!

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Keiko O’Leary’s Dreams

Well, Playonwordsians, we did it: we powered through New Year Nouveau. Thanks to everyone who joined us last night in person and online. We wanted to introduce you to one of our new contributors, Keiko O’Leary, whose piece, “The Golden Beauty of Carlina Johansen, Author of Milliner’s Dreams,” was performed last night by Alex Draa.

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Keiko O’Leary

Keiko writes short stories, primarily flash fiction. She also organizes the almost-weekly writing group Write to the End. She is a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

I’m proud to have participated in the Flash Fiction Forum’s first annual pubcrawl, where I read my flash piece “The Ghost of Ice Cream.” My story “White Mice” was also chosen for a Flash Fiction Forum. “White Mice” is available from Thinking Ink Press as a postcard that includes my original artwork Warning: Narrative Hazard. (Okay, I also make visual art. But shh! Don’t tell anyone.)

 Upcoming projects:

Since 2004 I’ve organized Write to the End, a writing group that meets most Tuesday nights. Anyone is welcome. Please visit http://writetotheend.com for details on how to attend. There you can also read articles about writing by members of our group.

Thinking Ink Press is looking for submissions. We consider any length or genre, but I’m especially interested in flash pieces for our postcards and Instant Books, since I design those. (Instant Books are small books folded from a single sheet of paper. They’re so exciting! Have you seen the one we did for Betsy Miller’s Play On Words story “Bees”?) Please see our call for submissions and our flash fiction publishing formats.

 What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love things like Play On Words. I found out about Play On Words because Thinking Ink Press launched the Instant Book of Betsy Miller’s “Bees” at Take Flight when Adam Magill read “Bees.”

And I’ll tell you a secret: When I was revising “Carlina Johansen,” I imagined it being performed, and I made my decisions with performance in mind. Seeing a Play On Words show inspired me to do that.

 Which writers or performers inspire you?

It took me years to figure out that lead roles in Kate & Leopold, X-Men, and The Prestige were all played by the same actor: Hugh Jackman. I saw him in performance at the Curran Theatre, and even though I was in the VERY BACK row of a completely sold out house, the experience was like having coffee one-on-one. Now that’s skill! I aspire to write as well, and as intimately, as Hugh Jackman performs.

As for writers, I’ll mention Julio Cortázar. I read him in Spanish, and he writes like he’s making love to the reader. His command of syntax is insane – he can control you completely just by the structure of his sentences. I don’t know what the English translations are like, but he has a great (flash fiction!) piece called “Continuidad de los parques” (translated as “Continuity of Parks”). One of my favorite longer pieces is “La autopista del sur” (translated as “The Southern Thruway”).

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I read Waiting for Godot in high school, and do I dare say I fell in love? I’ve since seen a few performances, and it always makes me laugh and feel understood, and it leaves me completely obsessed with the text. Even though I haven’t read or seen it for years, little phrases bubble up into my life from time to time: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” “There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.” The funniest part is where Pozzo makes Lucky “think” and Lucky spouts all sorts of repetitive and disjointed but conceptually connected phrases that seem to follow the structure of some sort of a logical argument. Just the rhythm of it is enough to cause uncontrollable giggling. I know there’s a lot of meaning to be found in that speech, but it’s also just plain fun. I’m sure Beckett had a blast writing that part.

Thank you for the opportunity to think about these things I love. I can’t wait to reread the pieces I’ve mentioned here. And I can’t wait to see the next Play On Words!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newslettertweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

Cellista and the “End of Time”

What do you get when you combine classical music, community organizing, a real passion for the arts, and savvy business sense? In a word: Cellista, also known as Freya Seeburger. Fans of San Jose’s The Commons might have seen this remarkable cellist performing downtown over the last few years–or gracing the stage at SubZERO fest, South First Fridays, and any number of venues in the Bay Area and beyond. This week we are delighted to share an excerpt of Cellista’s latest work, an introduction to “The End of Time,” a piece that was originally performed in a World War II prisoner of war camp–and one that she will be performing, alongside the Juxtapositions ensemble, this spring in San Jose’s Anno Domini gallery. We hope you can join us this Wednesday at Cafe Stritch for New Year Nouveau to see her monologue performed live.

cellista
Cellista

Since moving to downtown San Jose, California in 2010, Cellista has been actively involved in SJ’s vibrant arts scene as a performer as well as arts enabler both participating in and organizing community-based projects. Her arts-based company Juxtapositions reflects her love of San Jose and the entire Bay Area. Cellista aims to foster new audiences, and stages for the arts by presenting performances that promote inter-arts collaboration, innovative programming, and community dialogues facilitated by artists themselves.

Cellista is a noted performer.  She has recorded and performed with independent rock, hip hop, and classical groups including Van Dyke Parks, The Awesöme Orchestra Collective, Grammy-nominated artist Tanya Donelly, and The Coup (as a member of Classical Revolution) as well as Casey Cresenzo of The Dear Hunter.

Cellista’s penchant for performing music in unconventional spaces, and her devotion to collaborating with artists across mediums has led her to create unique performances that incorporate elements of classical music, improvisation, and visual art.

Her debut solo album Finding San Jose will be released in Fall of 2016.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

Cellista’s musicological research writing, focused on interdisciplinary topics in music, including French composer Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la fin du Temps,” earned her a panelist position at the 4th annual College of Liberal Arts Graduate Student Symposium (CLAGS) at the University of Nevada, Reno, as well as SFSU’s “Otey” award for research writing.  In April of 2015, she presented her paper, “The End of Time,” as an invited speaker at the University of Calgary’s graduate music symposium.

She is the recipient of the Nagel’s scholarship and a Bell Foundation grant awardee.

She is a recently appointed member of the San Jose Arts Commission.

She studies with cellist Jennifer Culp (SFCM, Kronos Quartet), and members of the Alexander String Quartet.

Upcoming projects:

I will be performing Messiaen’s “The End of Time” with the Juxtapositions ensemble on February 20, March 12 and 13 at Anno Domini gallery in San Jose. As part of this unique installation, I proposed the idea of creating artwork inspired by Messiaen to the artist Barron Storey. His work will be on display  at Anno Domini starting February 5. You can join us for the opening on February 5 or click here to buy tickets for our February 20, March 12 and 13 performances.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Julia is my rad neighbor.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Anais Nin’s life was a performance that inspires me. Ferlinghetti. The writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Illuminations by Rimbaud opened the gateway for some pretty angsty teen years and a whole life of good art making.

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s “Neighbor”

 

At Play On Words, we love it when we meet writers we love who, in turn, introduce us to writers they love. We call it the transitive power of awesomeness. We learned about Marilyn Horn-Fahey’s work through San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, and were delighted to perform a few of her flash fiction pieces last summer at our Words & Music show. We’re delighted to read her piece, “Neighbor,” this Wednesday at New Year Nouveau at Cafe Stretch. We hope you can join us.

Marilyn is a technical editor in Silicon Valley.

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Marilyn Horn-Fahey

Publications, Honors or Awards:

My stories have appeared in Switchback, Fine Linen and Marathon Review, among others. Learn more at marilynhornwriting.com.

Upcoming projects:

Thinking Ink Press will publish a collection of my stories in 2016.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

POW performed two of my stories in July 2015. There’s nothing quite like hearing your words interpreted by others! I’m hooked.

 Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

The War of Art. Anyone who faces resistance when trying to write should read it. Resistance is such a jerk!

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

 

Gary Singh’s Low Sodium-Oxide Streetlights

Play On Words has a proud history of producing Gary Singh’s funny, absurd, language-rich poems in bars, parks and restaurants around San Jose. If you read the Metro, you know Gary. If you’ve been to an Earthquakes soccer game, you know Gary. If you’ve been to any interesting festival, performance, show or cultural event in Silicon Valley, chances are you’ve met Gary. We’re delighted to perform “Indra’s Low Sodium-Oxide Streetlights” at New Year Nouveau, January 6 at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. We hope you can join us.

Gary Singh
Gary Singh

Gary 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. For 540 straight weeks, his newspaper columns have appeared in Metro, the alternative weekly paper of San Jose and Silicon Valley. Currently, he is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press). The poem we are producing in January was previously published at Three and a half point 9.

Want to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

 

Lita Kurth’s Compassionate Comedy

Lita Kurth

San Jose writers likely already know the lovely Lita Kurth, local writer, teacher and co-creator of the fabulous Flash Fiction Forum. We were delighted to produce her work last summer at Cafe Stritch (if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch Melinda Marks’ reading of “Bride”), and are excited to perform her comic piece, “Compassion: The Essence of Nursing,” January 6 at New Year Nouveau.

Lita Kurth
Lita Kurth

Lita (MFA Pacific Lutheran University) has had work published in Fjords Review, Brain,Child, Main Street Rag, Tikkun, NewVerseNews, Blast Furnace, ellipsis…literature and art, Compose, Redux, Raven Chronicles, Tattoo Highway, Composite Arts, Verbatim Poetry, the Santa Clara Review, Gyroscope Review, Vermont Literary Review, DNA, and others.

Her CNF, “Pivot,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her CNF “This is the Way We Wash the Clothes,” presented at the Working Class Studies conference, 2012, won the 2014 Diana Woods Memorial Award (summer-fall 2014) and appeared in Lunchticket 2014. She contributes to Tikkun.org/tikkundaily, TheReviewReview.net, and classism.org.

In 2013, she co-founded the Flash Fiction Forum, a reading series in San Jose. Learn more about her in this recent profile in the San Jose Metro.

Upcoming projects:

Upcoming on January 13th  is another Flash Fiction Forum, 7 PM Works Gallery in wonderful downtown San Jose!

I also teach private multi-genre workshops and online four-week flash fiction courses–learn more at Lita Kurth Writing Workshops.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I loved the idea as soon as I heard about it. Such fun to see another creative person bring a piece to life that I’ve written.

 Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. Just kidding, sort of. My inspirations are too numerous to list but a sampling includes the Rachel Field poetry of childhood, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tolstory, Flaubert, Irish writer Jamie O’Neill, E. Annie Proulx, and Zadie Smith.

Christine Keating’s “Girl in Pink”

This January we are delighted to bring back Bay Area playwright Christine Keating, author of “Girl in Pink,” which we’ll be showcasing January 6 at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. Play On Words fans might remember Christine’s biting play, “Misery Olympics,” from our Spring Fling show in 2014.

christine keating
Christine Keating. Photo by Grace Kinder

Christine is a playwright and director living in San Francisco. Her directing work includes productions with Those Women Productions and Santa Clara University, and readings with Magic Theatre, SF Playground, Custom Made Theatre, and TheatreWorks’ YPP. Writing credits include SF Olympians, Pint-Sized Plays, Theater Pub, Shotz, and Magic Theatre. She is the Director of New Works (The Forge) at Quantum Dragon Theatre. Look at her face and read things from her brain at www.KeatingMarie.com.

Upcoming projects:

The Forge at Quantum Dragon Theatre

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

The awesome mix of material, both in form and content. You never know what you’re going to get, it opens up my mind a little more every time I see the show!

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Can’t wait til next week to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

Sarah Lyn Rogers in the Land of Dragons

So, Sarah Lyn Rogers might have moved to Bhutan, but in our minds, she will always be a San Jose writer. You might recognize her work from previous POW shows–and you’ll be lucky to catch an excerpt of her essay, “Land of the Thunder Dragon: Expectations vs. Reality,” at New Year Nouveau on January 6 at Cafe Stritch.

sarahlynrogers
Sarah Lyn Rogers

Sarah is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area and currently lives in Thimphu, Bhutan. Over the past months, Sarah has grown accustomed to walking with cattle, meeting royalty, and writing poems about spells, rituals, and magical objects. Her first chapbook will be published by Sad Spell Press this spring. She is stoked. When she’s not writing, Sarah is the fiction editor for The Rumpus. For more of Sarah’s writing, doodles, and life stuff, visit sarahlynrogers.com.

Recent Publications:

Five of my On the Road erasure poems were published semi-recently in Potluck Mag for their spooky Halloween week. They are viewable here.

 Upcoming projects:

One of my poems, “Drones,” will be published in the next issue of DMQ Review. A few of my illustrations and microblogs of Bhutan life will be in the premiere issue of galley, a new zine for which there is not yet a link. Mostly I’m stoked about my chapbook which will be released by Sad Spell Press, an imprint of Witch Craft Magazine.

 What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I’ve said this one before in a different way, but my Bay Area friends are a crisscrossing community of writers and performers. How could I not get tangled up in this?

 Which writers or performers inspire you?

I know I’m like five years behind here, but I recently discovered Tavi Gevinson, a nineteen-year-old powerhouse who shot to internet fame for her fashion blog at the tender age of twelve and is now a successful actress, model, and editor-in-chief of Rookie Mag. I like that she’s unapologetic about being girly and legitimizes the real questions and frustrations of being a teenage girl in her magazine by and for teenage girls.

Working in writing and publishing, for me, has made me think twice about how feminine I’m “allowed” to be in my work and public persona, and how much I’m “allowed” to write about feelings. I liked having my perspective smacked around a little by discovering someone who is successful because of—not in spite of—her femininity.

 Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Madness, Rack, and Honey is an amazing book by poet Mary Ruefle. It’s a collection of essays, ostensibly about poetry, that’s really a curio cabinet of strange facts, quotations, and observations—food for writing-thought. I was delighted enough by the just intro to push my face into the spine and press the pages against my cheeks.

Allison Landa is “Not the Madonna”

At Play On Words, we love meeting fellow Bay Area writers, so we were delighted to receive a wonderful submission by Allison Landa. Join us January 6 at Cafe Stritch to see an excerpt of “Not the Madonna” performed live!

allison landa
Allison Landa

Allison is a Berkeley-based writer of fiction and memoir. A graduate of St. Mary’s College’s MFA program in creative writing, Landa’s work has been featured in Salon Magazine, You and Me Magazine, Word Riot, Toasted Cheese and Defenestration, among other venues. She has taken the stage at events including Flash Fiction Forum, Why There Are Words, Lip Service West, Quiet Lightning and Porchlight SF. She is represented by Miriam Altshuler of DeFiore and Company and is currently revising her memoir into a young adult novel. She shares her home with her husband, son and two manic Labrador-Australian Shepherd mixes. Stalk her at allisonlanda.com.

Recent Publications:

  • Salon Magazine
  • CherryBleeds
  • Word Riot
  • Defenestration
  • You and Me Magazine
  • Toasted Cheese
  • Swill
  • Sparkle & Blink
  • Cease, Cows

Honors:

  • Finalist, SheWrites Passion Project
  • Nominee, Micro Award Contest

Awards:

  • Fellow, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference
  • Fellow, The MacDowell Colony
  • Fellow, Playa Summer Lake
  • Fellow, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts
  • Fellow, Julia and David White Artists’ Colony

Upcoming projects:

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

It’s an exciting opportunity to see my work interpreted in a new and fresh way. Also, I dig San Jose.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

In no particular order: Stephen King, Jackie Collins, Michel Houellebecq, T.C. Boyle, Spaulding Gray, Ann Packer, Persimmon Blackbridge, and likely you.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Gone with the Wind, both as a book and as a movie. Scarlett O’Hara rocks my world and has ever since I first read the book at 6 – yes, 6! – years old. I was kind of a weird kid. Not much has changed.

Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!