Confluence Park will host the first installment of Parabola: A Community Reading Series Friday evening. The monthly series, presented by Gemini Ink in conjunction with the San Antonio River Foundation, will feature local, regional, and national talent reading alongside student writers.  

Friday’s inaugural reading will feature Oscar Cásares, author of Where We Come From and Brownsville, Vincent Cooper, local poet and author of Zarzamora and Where the Reckless Ones Come to Die, and student writers from Our Lady of the Lake University selected by current San Antonio Poet Laureate Octavio Quintanilla.

Gemini Ink’s literary programs director Patrick Stockwell said Parabola looks to bridge the gaps between writer communities in San Antonio, bringing student writing groups together with established writers.

There are also plans to open up to other, non-academic writing organizations and communities as the series continues, he said.

Parabola represents a deliberate attempt to move writing and writers outside of the academic establishment. By choosing a public park for the venue, the event organizers hope to attract both public interest and the participation of those who may feel intimidated or out of place at traditional reading venues like bookstores, universities, and libraries.

Stockwell said the series can help “demystify writing and writers for younger, aspiring writers.”

For Stockwell, who took inspiration for this series from a similar series in his hometown of Houston, the big idea is to “eliminate as many obstacles as possible” for writers and would-be attendees.

Quintanilla said it is vital for “local writers to share their work with their communities and for our local communities to share in the experiences of our writers.” The series offers a platform to do just that.

“It’s a gift to the community, which is rich with art, music, food, Spurs, and, of course, poetry,” said Cooper.

Cooper will read from his book Zarzamora, a collection of poems that he described as dealing with “grieving the loss of a generation, gentrification, and nostalgia,” on Friday.

For Ivelisse Rodriguez, author of Love War Stories, her participation in the September 27 iteration of Parabola will occasion her first ever visit to the Alamo City. The following day, she’ll be teaching a workshop on narrative arc at Gemini Ink.

Aside from being enthused to “be reading in a heavily Latino city,” Rodriguez likes the park as a venue for the reading.

“It could have the effect of introducing [her] to a larger world, with different types of people” that she might not normally reach, she said.

Echoing Stockwell’s sentiments, Rodriguez said that reading in non-traditional spaces like this are great because they “de-institutionalize the whole thing and make it way more accessible.”

With “no ivory towers anymore,” Rodriguez believes the broader community can simply enjoy “hearing their stories reflected back to them.”

James Courtney is a freelance arts and culture journalist in San Antonio. He also is a poet, a high school English teacher and debate coach, and a proud girl dad.