"A Chance to Have My Say"— Get to Know Playwright/Poet Judith Offer

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Judith Offer playwright poet
poet & playwright Judith Offer

Member Judith Offer will be our featured reader at our first meeting of the year on Sunday, January 19th.  Judith is celebrating her one-year anniversary of being in the California Writers Club! She is an Oakland poet and playwright. 18 of her plays have been professionally produced, most in community theatres in the Bay Area. Her themes are women’s issues, American history, and the various cultural groups that populate Oakland.

Judith has five books of poetry. Recently, she self-published a chapbook called The Grating of America, Poems For a Democracy Ground Down, about the current political situation. 

Pictures of plays, copies of some of her poems, and reviews are available at her web site, JudithOffer.com.


How did you become a writer?

In one sense my career is amazing: I had every possible disadvantage to ever writing anything. I was the oldest girl in a family of nine kids, born to parents who didn’t really want a huge family and were angry and resentful. We moved a lot, so I attended seven grammar schools and ended up with a sketchy, confused basic education, no permanent friends, and no long-term other adult support. My high school probably saved me. It was big, well-organized, and had a good teaching staff. And I got to be there for four years. I managed a few close friends and in spite of many home responsibilities, participation in a drama club. My intelligence was recognized to the extent that I made it into the top “track”. And though the teachers of the day mostly tried to ignore the girls, there were two who showed that they thought I had…something special. I made it through college by working as an au pair for room and board and with a state scholarship for tuition. I graduated with no single teacher telling me my writing was good, or suggesting a writing career, in spite of many essays and term papers with good grades. I went off to teach after school, not sure I wanted to; left to work in urban renewal, mostly because I got to work in downtown DC, still wondering what I was “becoming”. All this time, I was writing a few poems every year, which I kept in a small black notebook. In my late twenties I married, and two years later my husband, Stuart Offer, the only person who had seen my notebook, gave me a typewriter for Christmas, “so you can send your poems out.” So in my case, I really was rescued by Prince Charming. When I did send them, a number were quickly taken, and I suddenly knew what I was becoming. There has been a long road since then, and I am far from rich or famous from my writing. But I have been able to develop my gift, and I have seen many of my plays performed and poems published. I have had some killer fun times, directing plays, teaching kids drama, reading in cool places, and meeting all sorts of interesting and wonderful people. I feel like I have become part of the American story…a small part, but a part. I would like to see my plays on bigger, better-known stages, and I would like to get paid real money some day for them. But even if I never do, I feel that I have had at least some chance to “have my say” and to add to the list of women who, thanks to American feminists–such as the suffragists we’re celebrating this year—have made openings for people like me. 

Meet Judith and Prioritize Your Writing this Sunday January 19th

Join us with Judith Offer this Sunday

An Interview with our November Guest, Author Joan Gelfand

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Our featured guest this November 17th is Joan Gelfand. Her reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in over 100 national and international literary journals and magazines including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, PANK! Kalliope, The Toronto Review, Levure Litteraire and Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The author of three well-reviewed poetry collections and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction, Joan’s novel Fear to Shred will be published by Mastadon Press in 2020. Past President of the Women’s National Book Association, Joan is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards.  Her poetry was featured at the 4th Annual Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece and won Certificate of Merit in a juried art show at the International Association for the Study of Dreams. A film based on her poem, The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics, has since showed at nine international film festivals and won Best Poetry Film at the World Film Festival. 

Four Questions for Joan Gelfand

What are some common misconceptions people have about what it takes to be a real writer, and what’s true instead?

One common misconception is that real writers have literary agents. 
Many writers work with small presses directly, or university presses that do not require an agent. Also—and I feel strongly about this—poets are real writers and only a handful of poets have agents.  IMHO, the distinguishing feature of a ‘real writer’ is a writer who has at least one traditionally published book.

How did you harness Confidence, Commitment, Craft, and Community to help you write your latest novel Fear to Shred?

Let’s talk about Community first: 
I met my publisher at a Women’s National Book Association event. 
I had been very involved with the WNBA for 14 years as a volunteer.  I served as National President and chapter president of the SF chapter for two years. 
I also spent many years building up a platform, or fan base. I started a national writing contest that brought in a lot of writers and funds to the WNBA.
The other topics, Commitment, Craft and Confidence—I’d prefer to discuss in person with the group.

Who should be in a writer’s community? Are you talking about critique groups, or going to conferences to meet agents and editors, or both? Or something else entirely?

Again, in my humble opinion, every writer NEEDS to be in some sort of community.  If they are able, they should be serving as volunteers in any number of active writing communities in the Bay Area.
I don’t consider critique groups , or going to conferences, part of community. Conferences would be part of networking and critique groups I would put under craft.
 I am talking about building up your platform and fan base.  One writer said you build your fan base one fan at a time. That means you need to meet people, you need to show up at other people’s events, support other writers, etc.  Building community is a long term commitment. That said, many writers have built strong, successful communities on line. 
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all provide the tools to build community.

What are some good places to go in the Bay Area to meet some other writers and build community?

Beside the CWC there is the Women’s National Book Association, Left Coast Writers, San Francisco Creative Writing Institute, the Writing Salon, just to name a few.

Meet Joan Gelfald November 17th when she speaks on the topic “You Can Be a Winning Writer”

 

11/17 SPEAKER – “You Can Be a Winning Writer” with Joan Gelfland

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In this participatory workshop, author Joan Gelfand will discuss her 4 C’s approach to becoming a successful author. Joan will discuss how to incorporate craft, commitment, community, and confidence into a writing practice. Joan and her clients have produced significant results by incorporating this approach into their own writing practices. 

Accompanied by a thirty-minute Power Point, Joan will open the workshop for questions about writing and publishing challenges. Based on “You Can Be a Winning Writer” published by Mango Press, this workshop has been presented to California Writer’s Club and other venues to enthusiastic audiences including:  the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, Dominican College Low Residency MFA, San Francisco Public Libraries, Osher Lifelong Learning, Books, Inc., Creative Light Factory and other writer’s clubs, groups and conferences. 

Joan Gelfand’s reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in over 100 national and international literary journals and magazines including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, PANK! Kalliope, The Toronto Review, Levure Litteraire and Chicken Soup for the Soul. 

The author of three well-reviewed poetry collections and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction, Joan’s novel “Fear to Shred” takes place in a Silicon Valley startup. Mastadon Press will publish the novel in 2020.

Past President of the Women’s National Book Association, Joan is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards. 

“The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,” a poetry film based on Joan’s poem was featured at the 4th Annual Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece and won Certificate of Merit in a juried art show at the International Association for the Study of Dreams. It has since showed at nine international film festivals and won Best Poetry Film at the World Film Festival. unknown.jpgA graduate of Mills College MFA in Creative Writing, Joan has been speaking on the 4 C’s approach for over ten years. You can find her at http://joangelfand.com, on twitter at @joangelfand, facebook as JoanGelfand, and on Instagram as joangelfand.

Full Schedule of Events

Please NOTE NEW SCHEDULE

12:00 pm Setup
12:30 Doors open & member services
1:00 Raffle & Announcements
1:30 Featured Member: Lily Iona McKenzie
1:45 Keynote Speaker: Joan Gelfland
2:30 Book Sales & Networking
3:00 Marketing Group*
4:00 Craft Group*
5:00 The End

$5 for members, $10 for non-members*

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket

PLEASE PLAN TO PURCHASE A RAFFLE TICKET! Only $1 each or 6 for $5, every ticket supports the club’s equity program. You can win a book written by our club authors!

* Support groups are members-only but guests may audit
* Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are writers helping writers, a welcoming community.

1204 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

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SAVE THE DATES!
Our Forthcoming Events:

  • December 15th – Winter Social
  • January 19th – TBA
  • February 16thJan Steckel
  • March 15th – Panel TBA
  • April 21stTanya Egan Gibson
  • May 17thAndy Ross
  • June 16th – Member Book Launch

Check for support groups and more member events on our Calendar.

April 15th: The Art of Giving Live Readings with Amos White

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Amos White will be speaking at our April event

amos-white-thumb.jpgAMOS WHITE, Haiku poet, author and speaker
on The Art of Giving Live Readings

Sunday, April 15
1204 Preservation Parkway,
Oakland, CA 94612

Come hear this engaging and educational speaker to learn how the subtleties of tone and time can move an audience with but a word.

At the presentation you will learn:
* How to perform like a pro
* How to find open mics readings
* The dos & don’ts of reading etiquette
* How to host your own local literary readings

Bring a small poem or a written paragraph of fiction, nonfiction, etc. to practice reading aloud.

About Our Featured Guest, Amos White

Amos White is an awarded American haiku poet and author, producer and activist, recognized for his vivid literary imagery and breathless poetic interpretations. Amos is published in several national and international reviews and anthologies. He is Founder and Host of the Heart of the Muse creative’s salon, Executive Producer and Host of Beyond Words: Jazz+Poetry show; Producer of the Oakland Haiku and Poetry Festival; President of Bay Area Generations literary reading series.

Learn more about Amos White at: about.me/amoswhite or follow him on Facebook.

 

But Wait, There’s More!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Be sure to arrive early to participate in the Craft and Marketing groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this.

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member Fred Dodsworth
3:15–4:00 – Featured Speaker Amos White

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

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Save the date for our April 15th Event on Giving Live Readings

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Amos White will be speaking at our April event

For poetry month we welcome Amos White to speak to the Berkeley CWC on joining and succeeding at giving public readings. Amos White will share with us tips on securing public readings, as well as how to make a big splash once you walk on stage.

If you’ve ever met Amos White, you’ll know why we asked him to speak for poetry month. He’s active in the Bay Area literary scene, and he’s a charming guy who lights up the room. Don’t know Mr. White? Come join us this April and find out how you to can become the kind of reader who owns the stage and the room. As usual, we’ll also have support groups to discuss craft and marketing issues. Snacks, coffee, and plenty of networking opportunities at every meeting.

Our meetings are the third Sunday of every month, so mark your calendar for April 15th. If you use Google Calendar, you can subscribe to our calendar so you get notifications for every meeting. Our meetings are at Preservation Park, from 12-4. More info to come!

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