Maria Judnick’s Fowl Play

It’s not every day that you read a story written from the perspective of a chicken–and a dark, slightly absurd one at that. We were blown away by Maria Judnick’s “Sister Fowl,” a macabre, fascinating and funny piece that we plan to perform next Wednesday at Play On Words: New Horizons.

Maria_Judnick file
Maria Judnick

Maria is a Bay Area freelance writer and educator whose work can be found at KQED Pop!, The Santa Clara Weekly, and various literary journals. She enjoys participating in local reading series. During the summers, Maria coordinates National Endowment for the Humanities institutes for teachers. 

Publications, Honors or Awards:

Book Chapters:

  • ‘The Name of Hitchcock!  The Fame of Steinbeck!’: The Legacy of Lifeboat. (Chapter 12). 2014.
  • Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen.  Ed. Mark Osteen. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014.

Essay:

  • “We Should All Be More Like Steve Martin.” The Critical Flame: A Journal of Literature and Culture. Issue 50: September / October 2017. “A New Monument.” Guest Editor Ricco Siasoco. Ed. Daniel Evans Pritchard.

Poem:

  •  “A Directed Path.” Cordoba Magazine. (pdf) 2017

Flash Fiction:

  • A Swim Lesson.” Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest 2015. Honorary Mention and honorarium

Interview:

“Maria Judnick Interviews Linda Spalding.”  MARY: A Journal of New Writing.  2013

“Maria Judnick Interviews Rebecca Solnit.” 2012

 Ongoing projects:

She is also is one of the editors of Activate, the chapbook we produced in partnership with San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum earlier this year.

Follow SJSU’s Writing Center on Instagram at @sjsuwc and check out their blog 

Maria kindly answered some questions for us in advance of the show.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love celebrating local artists and writers – San Jose is a vibrant community for the arts!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

How much time do you have?  There are so many writers that have influenced me over the years and mentored me.  

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I recently discovered Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and I found myself quite moved by some of the entries. I’m envious of the great things she did with that format too!

Want to see Maria’s work performed live? Join us at 7 pm next Wednesday, April 11, at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

Advertisements

Anjela Villarreal Ratliff’s Letter to Spanish

While reading submissions for our New Horizons show, we were delighted to come across the work of poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff. Anjela’s poems explore a personal relationship with language and tell stories with every line. We’re looking forward to performing her poem “Dear español” April 11 at Cafe Stritch.

 

Anjela headshot
Anjela Villareal Ratliff

Anjela is a graduate of San Jose State University. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Texas Poetry Calendar, Australian Latino Press, Chachalaca Review, Boundless, Pilgrimage Magazine, riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature; Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems; Latinas: Protests and Struggles in the 21st Century USA; and is forthcoming in Southwestern American LiteratureWomen in the Southwest: From the Frontier to the Frontline; and Poems for the Tricentennial – A Poetic Legacy. She is also a creative writing workshop presenter. A native Tejana, Anjela was six months old when her migrant family moved to southern California where she was raised. She has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1990.

Anjela has published several poetry chapbooks, including Jardín de Poesía and Entre Piedra y Sol. Some of her chapbooks have been archived at the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas in Austin, and at Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections. Her poem, “Merged Mundos,” was a winner in the San Antonio Tricentennial Poetry Contest. Her poem, “I Exist,” was animated by Francesca Talenti. Her short story, “In My Classroom,” was published in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul. Several of her poems were winners of the Poetry With Wheels contest, for the Austin Metro area. Anjela was also editor for the Austin Poetry Society’s MuseLetter. Her artistic photos have been published in Pilgrimage and the San Pedro River Review. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself for us.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I saw the recent call for submissions by Play on Words posted on Facebook; and since I am a former graduate of San Jose State University, it perked my interest right away. I was delighted by the idea that readers and performers from the San Jose area would be reading the selected works.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I have been very inspired by numerous well-known poets, including Carmen Tafolla, Naomi Shihab Nye, Benjamin Alire Saenz, David Hernandez, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz, to name just a few. I am continually inspired by the poetry of several talented Austin poets I am privileged to know personally: Gloria Amescua, Lydia Armendáriz, Liliana Valenzuela, and Celeste Guzman Mendoza.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I very much enjoy the performances by the gifted and multitalented, world-renowned poet/writer/performer, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, and Poet Laureate of Texas for 2015-2016. One of her earlier collections of poetry and prose, Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works, is one of my all time favorites by the Latina poet. She also performs a one-woman storytelling act, with an array of great characters, including “Tia Maria.” Every time I see her perform her literary works, I come away inspired and deeply moved.

Intrigued? Join us at 7 pm next Wednesday, April 11 at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch to see her work performed aloud.

Charlene’s “Cloak”

Sometimes we are drawn to stories because of their premise or pacing; other times we are compelled by a singular and unique voice, one we hadn’t heard before. When we received “The Fisherman and the Cloak” by Charlene Logan Burnett, we were struck by the story’s tone, tenor and unusual, Aesop’s fable-turned-Nordic-fairy-tale rhythm. We look forward to performing this piece a week from today at our New Horizons show at Cafe Stritch.

 

Logan Burnett_Charlene__6x4_300
Charlene Logan Burnett

Charlene Logan Burnett writes fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Witness Magazine, Blackbird, Natural Bridge, RHINO, WomensArts Quarterly, and other magazines and journals. She was a writing fellow at the MacDowell Colony and a Pushcart Nominee. She earned an M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of California, Davis.

She has been a finalist in a number of short fiction contests, including the 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, sponsored by Nimrod International Journal, the 2017 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, sponsored by Colorado Review, and the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize, sponsored by Hunger Mountain.

“The Fisherman and The Cloak,” published in Menacing Hedge, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2013. Charlene graciously shared some insight with us.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I had an English professor who used to read from a women’s fiction anthology to our class. It was a magical hour. Often, stories that move me to tears are spoken. The pace is slower. The space feels more intimate than a page. The words seem to penetrate deeper inside me.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

For this particular piece, I would say Angela Carter. Flannery O’Connor remains one of my favorites.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I went back to college as an adult with a small child. I had to take a remedial English class to catch up. The teacher used to read aloud to us from the fiction anthology, Women and Fiction: Short Stories By and About Women. It was my first experience listening to the words of women writers like Grace Paley and Margaret Drabble. They wrote about people I knew. It was in that class I decided to write. The paperback book, although falling apart, is still on my shelf.

Want to see Charlene’s work performed aloud? Join us at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 11 at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. Hope to see you there!

Introducing Dallas Woodburn

Can you “return” love? What about your heart? Dallas Woodburn’s wonderful piece, “Receiptless,” explores what happens when heartbreak comes alive. We can’t wait to read her work at A New Horizon, our  April 11 show at Cafe Stritch .

Dallas Woodburn headshot 2017
Dallas Woodburn

The year we launched Play On Words, Dallas was a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. She has published work in Zyzzyva, The Nashville Review, and The Los Angeles Times, among many others, and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles, South Lake Tahoe, and New York City. Her debut short story collection Woman, Running Late, in a Dress won the 2018 Cypress & Pine Short Fiction Award and was recently published by Yellow Flag Press. Dallas is the founder of Write On! Books, an organization that empowers youth through reading and writing endeavors. Awards include the WordWave Playwriting Contest, the international Glass Woman Prize, and a second place American Fiction Prize. She blogs weekly at daybydaymasterpiece.com

We are delighted to perform her piece, “Receiptless,” next Wednesday, April 11, 7 pm at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love the idea of collaborating with other artists and bringing new life to the written word onstage!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I was incredibly moved when I watched the performance by Laurel Brittan of Arcadia Conrad’s piece “308 on 308” on your blog. Gave me goosebumps!

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Maya Angelou and her profound grace and wisdom swept through the large auditorium – everyone was stilled, hushed. Her presence was magnetic and intimate and beautiful.

I also loved a performance I attended in London of the play Woman in Black, which illustrated the amazing power of words to hold us spellbound in our imaginations. The entire play is presented as a story that is being told to the audience, with a very minimalist set design, and yet your brain fills in all the details and you feel wholly transported into the story.

We hope you can join us next week to see Dallas’ work performed. Come early and snag a copy of her new book, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress.

Ann Hillesland’s Superpower

Spring is in full bloom, which means that Play On Words is busy taking advantage of the extra daylight to squeeze in another show this month. We’re thrilled to roll out our lineup for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch this week, starting with the fabulous Ann Hillesland. A California native, Ann writes fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been published in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, Bayou, The Laurel Review, Corium, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has been presented onstage by Stories On Stage Davis and Denver. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte.

 

HilleslandBioPhoto2
Ann Hillesland

Ann’s piece, “About My Mother,” was chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions. Her story “Pique Assiette” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her piece “Pale Rider” won the grand prize for prose in Spark contest 8. 

 

Her recent publications include:

We’re delighted to be reading her piece, “Your Superpower,” at our April 11 show.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I had a story read by Stories on Stage, Davis, and it was a blast!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street made me love flash fiction before I knew what it was. Alice Munro’s stories give me a new appreciation of what a short story can encompass.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I’ve always loved F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I was young I wanted to grow up to write like him. I find myself returning to The Great Gatsby over and over. It’s gorgeous from ifs novel craft to its writing style.

Want to hear Ann’s work read aloud? Join us at 7 pm Wednesday, April 11, for Play On Words: New Horizons at Cafe Stritch.

 

Arcadia Conrad reads April Halprin Wayland

Today we share our final video from our January 17 show at Cafe Stritch: the inimitable Arcadia Conrad reading two poems by award-winning writer, activist and educator April Halprin Wayland. It was important for us to close our Activists Unite show on hopeful note–to show that though some struggles for justice take generations to gain traction, the legacy of the fight endures.

Many thanks to the many artists, writers and activists who made our January 17 show possible. We are grateful to you for loaning us your words and your talent–and we hope you submit this week to our April 11 show!

Anyone interested in purchasing Activate, our new chapbook produced in partnership with Lita Kurth, Tania Martin, Maria Judnick and Peter Caravalho, may place an order here.

And finally, to all our fellow activists: We’re here to carry your sign.

Melinda Marks reads Cindy Stewart-Rinier

When we were planning the lineup for our January 17 show, we staged our pieces in an intentional chronological order. The idea? To show how different generations of activists have grappled with some of the same big questions, year after year, campaign after campaign, president after president. Melinda Marks was proud to perform Cindy Stewart-Rinier’s “Under Trump, No Good Deed,” a poem particularly suited to today’s world:

Hard as it can be to grapple with the challenges of today’s world, we’re glad to promote artists whose work we feel offers a little respite, a little tiny dagger of truth, a gasp of hope in a changing environment. Cindy’s poem is included in our new chapbook, Activate, which you can order here.

We’re still looking for short stories, poems, and plays under 1500 words for our April 11 show. Got something you’re proud of? Send it along as an attachment to playonwordssj@gmail.com.

Michael Weiland reads Ken Weisner

Sometimes nothing is funnier than repeating the words “Dick Cheney.” The amazing Michael Weiland proved that by reading Ken Weisner’s comic poem, “Ghazal,” at our Activists Unite show at Cafe Stritch. Couldn’t make it? Check out Michael’s performance below:

Ken recited some poems and read his own work last week at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum during our chapbook launch party. Want to get your hands on our beautiful new book, designed by Peter Caravalho of Black Kites Press and produced in partnership with the Flash Fiction Forum? Fill out our order form to purchase your own copy!

ken weisner
Ken Weisner read at Euphrat Museum on February 28

We’re currently reading submissions for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch–and we need more work! Submit your poems, short stories, and works of theater to us at playonwordssj@gmail.com. Please note we cap submissions at 1500 words.

Laurel Brittan reads Arcadia Conrad

One of the reasons we encourage writers to participate in Play On Words is to hear what it sounds like to have an actor interpret their work aloud. Even if the writer is a practiced and comfortable reader–or even a fellow actor, such as the inimitable Arcadia Conrad–there is such value to be had in hearing someone else meditate on one’s work. We were lucky enough to have the amazing Laurel Brittan perform Arcadia’s thought-provoking piece, “308 on 308,” at our Activists Unite show on January 17:

“308 on 308” is just one of the 28 pieces we have included in Activate, our forthcoming chapbook produced in conjunction with Flash Fiction Forum. We’re thrilled to have a few copies of this book in hand tonight at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum, where a number of #powsj and Flash Fiction Forum readers will be reading their own work at 5 pm. Hope to see you there!