FOR THEATRE LOVERS (and what poet isn’t?): Innovative Berkeley (CA) theatre seeks volunteers

LIVE OAK THEATRE in Berkeley was recently featured by Oakland Magazine as Editor’s Choice for Best Theatrical Turnaround . Kudos to the new management, TheatreFIRST.

With TheatreFIRST came a notable shift focusing on commissioned work and creative teams comprised predominantly of women and people of color.

The current season, which began on the 15th, promises to be exciting and innovating with:

  • The Farm (currently playing), a song-poem-beat-opera adaption of George Orwell’s Animal Farm;
  • Participants (opens December 3) is a theatrical exploration that delves into how we individually and communally act in times of social and political unrest. The audience, sitting in a circle and led by a central emcee, will witness twelve new works that aim to incite community discussion.
  • Between Us (opens on February 18, 2018), which  invites you to meet a leader of the Delano Grape Strike, A woman attending her first protest, a voodoo queen, the Uruguayan woman who will fight her government to get justice for her murdered sister, a black woman contemplating the first MLK day, a U.S. general who foils a coup on Roosevelt, a queer icon for the ages, and one of the woman who led the redress movement for the over 100,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII; and
  • Waarika (opens May 6, 2018) by Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko.
With their first show of the 2017-18 season, The Farm, TheatreFIRST seeks volunteer help: ushers and people to handle light concessions.
If you’re interested in volunteering, please sign up HERE.
“Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich; But theatre will make you good.”  Terrence Mann

 Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA

Photograph: Gargoyles as theatrical masks above a water basin. Mosaic, Roman artwork, 2nd century CE. The piece can be found at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Palazzo dei Conservatori, first floor, hall of the Horti of Mæcenas. From the Baths of Decius on the Aventine Hill, Rome.

“Dr. Jernail S. Anand (Poet), Writing in the Virtual World” by Aprilia Zank, Ph.D.


Living more and more trapped in cyberspace (statistics can attest that we spend daily more hours in the virtual than in the real world), we may at a certain point be inclined to demonise it, but the fact of the matter is that the virtual space does offer us an unparalleled range of opportunities. Through it, I have been bestowed the privilege of coming into contact with a large number of amazing personalities from various fields of culture and creativity, among whom I am happy to mention Dr. Jernail S. Anand, an Indian poet, philosopher, teacher, educator, to name just the main aspects of his proliferous career.

Dr. Aprilia Zank

Due to both my profession and my passion for literature and art, I had been familiar with creative people before the Internet, but it was the sort of closeness which one finds in the seclusion of libraries, museums, university halls and the like. With the new generations ‘born’ with notebooks, tablets or smartphones in their hands, the encounter with knowledge or creativity acquires new coordinates. The notion of reception needs to be reshaped and reconstructed. What sounds like self-evidence at first view needs though critical questioning. Do we really experience and process literary and artistic contents in a new way in the virtual space? Does it make a difference if I hold a paper book in my hands, or if I read it on a screen, or is its impact on me the same? Perhaps we need indeed to pay new consideration to Marshall McLuhan’s declaration that “the medium is the message.” Extensive research is necessary, and scientists of all domains are busy attempting to transmute their findings into relevant statistic data, but beyond all scholarly devices are the unique literature and art recipients with their particular premises for the reception and processing of literary writings and of works of art.

My encounter with Dr. Anand has taken place – so far and I hope it will change soon – in the virtual space only. I have had no opportunity to meet him in person, yet I have the feeling that we are good old friends. Furthermore, we both belong to a tremendous network of friends and friends’ friends who are in a permanent and immediate encounter and exchange of information, opinions and critical views. For there is no denial of the fact that accessibility of all types is practically borderless in cyberspace. A sheer number of readers can and do access Dr. Anand’s poems, essays and philosophical work in bits or as full books on the Internet. This unparalleled intercourse occurs within our beloved social networks in which communication is possible at any time, from every place and with everybody. But what sounds like a tremendous achievement in general and a huge chance for writers and artists in particular comes at a price. It is precisely the easiness of accessibility that renders the encounter with e-media contents accidental, fugitive, and often enough perfunctory. Under the ‘burden’ of the stupendous offer we are confronted with in cyberspace, we race from stimulus to stimulus in a feverish attempt to absorb as much information as possible. Under these circumstances, we run the risk of being superficial in our assimilation and, accordingly, far from optimal in our response.

Dr. Jernail S. Anand

Dr. Jernail S. Anand

Now, Dr. Anand is a renowned personality with a remarkable retinue of followers and admirers who always search for his presence and newest publications in the virtual world. And he does indeed regale them with exquisite poetry, thought-provoking quotes, or deep-reaching philosophical musings. The readers’ response is there, but it has evolved into a new language, semiotic to a great extent. We use ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘angry’, ‘sad’ and more signs to save time, or in the best case, we type ‘excellent’, ‘profound’ ‘congratulations’, to attest due consideration. Can this be a satisfactory type of feedback? On looking at Dr. Anand’s literary items shared the day I am writing this article, I spot a poem titled “HOW POOR IS THIS LIFE”. A quick analysis reveals that a response is there: 23 readers have liked and/or loved the poem, two have provided comments of one and of four words respectively, but that is about all. I miss some, to my mind, almost compulsory remarks, e.g. a reference to the Eliotian echo of the lines:

I write so much yet the feeling …
of half fulfilment stays.

or a few words of appreciation for the exquisite metaphors below:

I could not digest the winds
I could not drink the seas

The poet further complains about the unsatisfactory living we are trapped in:

Life! How poor you are!

It is, of course, the spiritual poverty he is is weary of, a recurring theme in Dr. Anand’s writings and a major potential starting point for a debate among the readers of the poem. Decay of traditional values, lack of genuine communication with one’s own kind, failure in the attempt to connect with God – it is all there craving for introspection and deliberation. But here, too, things seem to be doomed to fail to meet expectations:

Things remained half loved
Hence half lived.

Is there any chance left for mankind to find its way back to primeval joy? In the poem “JOYS PAINS”, Dr. Anand emphasises the inextricable duality of joy/pain by using stylistic devices such as capitalisation and the juxtaposition of words with no punctuation, thus almost creating a proper name with a single ‘signifié’. The last three lines convey one more cry-out-loud testimony of the shallowness of inter-human relationships in a world devoid of true communication:

Nobody listens to the shrieks
Which issue from silent lips
Coated with red smiles

A look at the feedback on these major issues present in the poem reveals a poor echo to such a challenging piece of writing: a few semiotic ‘likes’, a ‘sad’ sign, and a positive remark illustrated by a line of the poem. No truly deep consideration offered to major existential questions posited in other poems either. Weirdly enough, this is by no means lack of appreciation or interest, since Dr. Anand is well-known as one of the most widely acknowledged contemporary Indian poets and philosophers. It is rather a peculiar aspect of the nature of reception in this kaleidoscopic world which is the virtual space. Aside from the already mentioned fast-paced character of this medium, which urges us to move on and on to the next items of interest, further components come into play or better said interplay among its users. Visibility and transparency, which per se are positive features of the virtual space, may become inhibitory under the realisation that people ‘can read your mind’ when you express your ideas, opinions and the like on various issues. Direct comparison with other minds can occur, with an uncertain outcome. A reason for many to refrain from a too obvious display of their own facets of spirit or intellect.

Luckily, Dr. Anand’s prolific work has been extensively and skilfully dealt with by scholars who have assuredly taken more than a glance at his literary and philosophical writings. For there is no doubt that thorough reading and rigorous research is still being practised, even in our high-speed world and in the fugacious virtual reality.

Summing up, I think there is no point in trying to solve the quandary whether the virtual world with its social networks are a blessing or a curse. Living without it has become unthinkable, so why not make the best of it. The possibility to display your work and creativity in it, to enjoy borderless visibility and access, and to have the chance of getting feedback from the most unexpected corners of the virtual but also of the real world is priceless. And in this respect I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the tremendous personality of Dr. J. S. Anand in this scintillating world. This notwithstanding, I am of course looking forward to an early encounter with the man in person.

– Aprilia S. Zank
October 12th, 2017
Munich, Germany

© 2017, essay and photo portraits, Aprilia S. Zank; Originally published in Galaktika Poetike “ATUNIS” and republished here with Aprilia’s permission

DR. APRILIA ZANK is a lecturer for Creative Writing and Translation in the Department of Languages and Communication at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, where she received her PhD degree in Literature and Psycholinguistics for her thesis THE WORD IN THE WORD Literary Text Reception and Linguistic Relativity. She is also a poet, a translator and the editor of two anthologies: the English–German anthology poetry tREnD Eine englisch-deutsche Anthologie zeitgenössischer Lyrik, LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2010, and the anthology POETS IN PERSON at the Glassblower (Indigo Dream Publishing, April, 2014). She writes verse in English and German, and was awarded a distinction at the “Vera Piller” Poetry Contest in Zurich. Her poetry collection, TERMINUS ARCADIA, was 2nd Place Winner at the Twowolvz Press Poetry Chapbook Contest 2013. Aprilia Zank is also a passionate photographer: many of her images are prize-winners and several have been selected for poetry book covers.

DR. JERNAIL S. ANANAD is the author of two dozen books in English poetry, fiction and non-fiction, Dr. J. S. Anand is an established name in the field of education, philosophy, and spirituality. Born on 15th Jan., 1955, he hails from village Longowal [Distt. Sangrur,Punjab, India]. He got his school education from the best schools in Ludhiana, the highly industrialized city of Punjab, famous for its hosiery and cycle parts industry. He was a student of famous Govt. College, Ludhiana, during his graduate studies, and he did his M.A. in English literature from Punjabi University, Patiala, securing 2nd position in the University. His doctoral thesis, submitted to Panjab University, Chandigarh, was on “A Comparative study of Mysticism in the poetry of Walt Whitman and Prof. Puran Singh”. Dr. Anand is an educationist, an able administrator, a talented writer, a novelist, a poet, and a philosopher, who is a multi-dimensional personality, particularly, in view of his interest in Saving the Earth. He planted around 20 thousand saplings in and around Bathinda. He has also delivered lecturers on Spirituality, Human Rights, and Moral Values. “We are inheritors of the wealth of this earth and this sky, and it belongs equally to us all” – Anand

A Million Desitines is Dr. Anand’s English language collection.



The Scent of Ma’amoul, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Lebanese shortbread cookies stuffed with figs, dates or walnuts (the original fig newton???)

Lebanese shortbread cookies (Ma’amoul) stuffed with figs, dates or walnuts (the original Fig Newton???)

The year we shaped our lives in the redwood forest,
you brought a wounded salamander inside to heal.
We gathered woodsy things, thistles and pinecones.
We made rose-hip syrup, dried the last of the herbs.
I decorated the cabin in an ensemble of earth tones,
a spicy blend to match the fires you built in the hearth
and the scent of the East in the ma’amoul baking. Our
seasonal hibernation was swathed in sweets and books.
Our winter warmed on the gold-dust of our love.

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph, mamoul: biscotti libanesi, by fugzu under CC BY 2.0 license


Well, here we are in my part of the world waking up to cold mornings and enjoying it. Over my morning coffee I was remembering particularly enjoyable winters and pondering what I’ll write about this winter.  In prose or poem, tell us about a favorite winter memory. If you feel comfortable to do so, share it – or a link to it – in the comments section below.  All work shared on theme will be published here next Tuesday.  You have until Monday evening at 8 pm PST to respond. Have fun! 


“Shriveled Rose Petal” and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

So many takes on growing old: gifts, beauty and downsides. These are responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, October 11, Once Upon a Time When They Were OldWelcome to Billy Antonio, here for the first time and thanks to Billy, Ginny Brannan, Renee Espiru, Iulia Gherghei , Colin Blundell, Gary W. Bowers, Kakahli Gosh, Lady Nimue, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Paul Brookes for so beautifully rising to the occasion and so generously sharing their work. Find some smiles here, a giggle or two, a sigh, a tear … and a load of talent and wisdom.

shriveled rose petal
the intricate veins
on mother’s hands

© 2017, Billy Antonio

Billy Antonio

BILLY ANTONIO is a poet, writer, and public school teacher. He is the author of the mini-chapbook In a Country with Two Seasons (a haiku collection) published by Poems-For-All. His short story, The Kite, has been broadcast on 4EB-FM, 98.1 in Brisbane, Australia. Some of his fiction and poetry have been published in Tincture Journal, Red River Review, Poetry Quarterly, Akitsu Quarterly, Anak Sastra, The Cicada’s Cry, Frameless Sky, The Mainichi, Scifaikuest, Star*Line, The Asahi Shimbun, Sonic Boom, among others. His poetry has won international recognition. He lives in the Philippines with his wife, Rowena, and his two daughters, Felicity and Asiel Sophie.

Old age

prisoner of my bad temper
in search of my light past
when I used to laugh my tears out
everything was a reason for laughter
jokes on everyone
I was the soul of the party
the champagne was sparkling into my eyes
now the joke is on me
I’ve suddenly realized that
laughter had abandon the ship
I enjoy only the sound of a quiet evening
Now it’s a time in my life when my engines
run slowly
In fact I have energy just to watch others pass by
to watch leaves turning green
to really breathe the air and sense the fragrance of a fresh born flower
Now I run the movie of my life backwards
I’m stunt how always in a hurry I used to be
obsessed to be free, nobody to interfere in my way
Now when I am tired, and maybe smarter
for sure older
I stopped by the river side, stare at my reflection in the fluid mirror
And silently shared a tear

© 2017, Iulia Gherghei  (Sky Under Construction)

wither so ever

the sun is an e-z bake oven
the years are the crepers of flesh
these witches cast spells from their coven
and incubate me in a creche

their eye of newt makes me a baby
dependent and feeble and blind
to crawl via walker and maybe
refetusize curly-q-spined

old age ain’t for sissies said bette
i grow old said prufrock by eliot
the challenge for us who are ready
to set jaw and fire-in-the-belly it

when entropy renders defective
when age compromises reliance
and culture says Old’s Ineffective
that when we all most need DEFIANCE

still proving we have what it takes
and on through the gravel-strides crunching
concocting NEW Models and Makes.

© 2017, Gary W. Bowers  (One With Clay)

A Magical Dance

See the youth that resides within me
mirrored dark curls framing a woman’s
face who now breathes easier

not often the case when questions curled
like a hazy halo of smokey confusion
within my days and nights

watch me convey knowledge soul filled
now a sign of experiential vibrant color
a glowing gold not in the guise
of youth’s vanity

see my spirit soar within mirrored eyes
clear as mountain spring waters
seeing deep as ocean valleys
thunderous as waterfalls

filling crystal clear rivers running swift
choreographed with a magical dance
of a sprite or fairy or two

© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight and Inspiration, Imagination & Creativity with Wings, Haibun, AR, Haiku & Haiga)

#Desire for Endless Love#

Why so alluring this argil is !
Why so mysterious this forest is !
Clasping dusk in a swan’s wings
Groping the falling darkish with shedded coniferous leaves
In the twilight of life when each spirit waits for someone
Eyes brim with tears
Birds retire to their nests flying over the blue ocean
Defraying moistures in their slender feathers
Flute of a shepherd boy sway my old heart
The night comes through stairs of mist
Through my watery old eyes
Agony switches apiece
But today in this watery moonlit night someone is at my door
Someone has reposed his eyes in my old eyes
In this assembly of life
O my unknown love
Please never renounce my crooked hands
Life crinkles body shrinks

But Love is endless – eternal
Please love me dear till
My last breath
Saying I’m pretty in your eyes
with my grey hair
Dry lips and vague vision
Kissing me upon my doom and cheeks
With Crisscross streaks …

© 2017, Kakali Das Ghosh world of leaves..

is this the final drop, slowly. not the white

wind blown kind that raises spirits. this

is due to a colder day, early morning five


maybe this or a lack of adrenaline caused

it, the coming together of years which

slowly pass.

shadows of birds. dust motes in air.

marmalade toast.

is this the final drop?

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

it’s been such an easy life

on the outside (he says) counting the hours
that have fled all too quickly
a ripple in time
way beyond into the future

I’ve been awaiting something (he says)
for which I had to sit
in a comfortable anteroom
listening to the sounds of music
and laughter from inside the great hall

on the inside (he says) I’m still wondering
what I’m going to be when I grow up –
how I will frequent the literary pubs
& sit writing poetry at beer-stained tables
being a constant mystery
to the anxious youth at an adjacent table –
myself when young

I stride through all the Magic Cities;
I conduct my own symphonies of sound
and enter the soul of these two new cats

© 2017, Colin Blundell (Colin Blundell, All and Everything)

The Older Me

The older me knows my worth,
The value of my ideas and words,
She tells the stories with pride
That the younger me wants to hide;

The older me knows what’s lost
Was perhaps meant only as thoughts
But the more it lingered in the heart,
The younger me cried when time came to part.

The older me can not read this post
But she listens well and sings a lot
She dances on the whims of her own
Something that young me could not.

The older me is no more beautiful
Or any less than who I am right now
But she has a heart younger,mind pure
Than I can ever aspire to hold.

© Lady Nimue (Prats Corner: Pages of my mind: collecting words, experiences and memories …)


Who will I be when I grow old…
will I sit and babble nonsense rhyme
old poems and remnants left behind—
when those final years take hold.

Will past and present merge as one,
as mind relinquishes control;
or stay alert, my thoughts left whole
while body starts to come undone.

No gypsy fortune-tellers, we—
what lies before us, undefined
should favor nod as we decline
perhaps we’ll keep our sanity

Yes, all things acquiesce to time…
we only hope the years are kind.

© 2017, Ginny Brannan

Love Undying

He comes to visit each day,
reminding us as he enters that he’ll
be taking her home as soon as she’s
better, as soon as she’s stronger;
his dear sweet wife.

He lives for this woman, now mute
regressed in her memory–
holding tightly to a baby doll
perhaps for comfort, or perhaps
lost in vision of childhood
long past.

He gently wheels her through the halls
as though on some grand tour–
then he sits on the sofa in the hall
and lovingly clasps her pale parchment hand.
Talking softly, he asks

“Do you know what day today is?
It’s New Years eve day”

……”Can you hear me?”

……“Do you know who I am?”

and I wonder…

When I am old and lost in my thoughts
will someone come to see me each day,
gently take me by the hand–
and quietly remind me who I am?

© 2017, Ginny Brannan

Born Old

coddled in wool blanket drifts
Sun sears baby eyes through bright windows,
hospital paths cleared tall walls
of snow either side. I howled

a gust down shop aisles, on street
to the dentists. Crowds frowned.
Summer bike rides in country lanes
Spring divorced winter.

Summer was another dialect. Coarser,
to play was to laik, sweets were spice.
Wide games in a silver wood, ventured
into cold huts. Fun with sausages and custard.

Hull hunkered in Christian winter, relieved by Summer gamelan and hope for a vocation
to last manual work and taking the pillock.
It didn’t. Winter of closing pits.

Bristol summered in performance
Classes on interview technique, teach
Teenagers how to think into a job.
beyond unemployment benefit office screens

Spout words over dripped lager louts,
Back in summered day buzz of words clapped,
then winter cancered into debt
and prodigal return. No fatted calf

only steroid fatted bald mam and chores
in garden until I met my future wife
for a bet in breaks between admin.
Summered teach adults write and history.

A winter that lasted twelve years headset
yoked ears bent to abuse from wronged
Customers and peddled official lines.
Summer came with an unwanted death,

A years enjoyment of travel and delight.
Summer comes in to autumn with cash gone.
Life a priority. Bills must be paid. Work
only part time, buzz when I help customers.

© 2017, Paul Brookes

Know Old

You know you’re human when

you put your leg in the wrong
way in your boxer shorts.

you pick up your wife’s toothbrush,
not yours and use her toothpaste,
not yours, oblivious to both.

when it’s hot you put on too much
clothing, when it’s cold, too little.

wear underpants with holes
in the crutch through wear not design.

laugh at books and signs full
of epigrammatic phrases about
growing old, living with someone,
the habits of cats and dogs.

© 2017, Paul Brookes