When considering the word “conversation,” one may not consider the entirety of its meaning. From the writer’s perspective, many aspects of conversation can take place on the page.
During the 2018 Writers Conference, entitled “Writing the New Century,” Gemini Ink began some important conversations about the role of the writer and memory, location, and identity that were left unfinished when the weekend came to an end. This year’s conference has been carefully designed to revisit and further develop those discourses.
The theme of “Negotiating Place” works to engage readers, writers, and educators on multiple levels to enforce the idea that “place” can mean anything from the physical space where you write to the environment in which you grew up to the way you personally identify.
For the last three years, Gemini Ink has offered a weekend writers conference in the heart of downtown San Antonio, designed to create an inclusive, intellectually-stimulating space in which writers of all levels can gather in panels, intimately-sized writing workshops, a bookseller’s market, and free evening author readings and talks at various downtown locales. The staff at Gemini Ink has envisioned this conference as a means to promote and demonstrate the interconnectedness of the literary arts community in San Antonio, the Texas region, and beyond.
This year’s event will feature a powerful lineup of authors including noted memoirist Ira Sukrungruang, author of Buddha’s Dog & other Meditations and Southside Buddhist; Analicia Sotelo, author of Virgin, winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize; Camille Acker, author of Training School for Negro Girls; award-winning poet Pablo Miguel Martínez, author of Brazos, Carry Me and Cuent@; and Andre Dubus III, author of the novel Gone So Long, the memoir Townie, and New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog and Garden of Last Days.
These featured authors are offering small-group workshops where they will help writers of all levels improve their craft. For example, Pablo Miguel Martínez’s “Word + Image: This Place is My Poem” delves into the tradition of ekphrasis, or writing poems about works of visual art.
In addition, for the third year in a row, spoken word artists Andrea VOCAB Sanderson and Christopher “Rooster” Martinez will host a free youth workshop for young writers ages 13-17, entitled The Spilled Ink Youth Project, on the Sunday of the conference. This workshop teaches young writers the craft of spoken word poetry and helps them create original work while receiving guidance from some of San Antonio’s most talented word artists. Spots still remain.
Over the course of the weekend, there will also be a total of thirty-seven panels comprised of writers, literary publishers, scholars and more, with each one taking on the idea of “place” from a different perspective.
“Taking Up Space: Teatro in the Classroom,” featuring Joyous Windrider Jiménez and Clint Taylor, examines how using theater can help young people find a creative voice which may otherwise be dormant.
“Dark Parking Lot: Women in Crime Fiction,” featuring Patricia Portales and William Glenn, delves into the ways that women and men can have a different experience, and therefore a different account, of the exact same physical location, using the danger-laden settings of crime fiction as an especially vivid example of this.
“Navigating the Literary Landscape of Texas: Publishers Perspectives,” featuring Katherine Hoerth, Kimberly Davis, and Edward Vidaurre, explores the “brand” of Texas publications and the path that they have been making for themselves.
Finally, don’t miss a chance to catch all of the conference’s featured authors in one room at one time as they will appear for an hour-long Q&A and conversation on the panel “What’s My Place in All of This?” which is completely free and open to the public. This panel, sponsored by Humanities Texas, will have each author weighing in how contemporary writers are discovering myriad ways to celebrate the textures of the local while connecting to the global. This will take place in the Romeo and Juliet room of the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 20.
In addition to all of the panels and workshops being offered on-site, Gemini Ink’s conference highlights free evening programming, such as two off-site events that are free and open to the public. The first is “(Un)definition: Challenging the Ideas We’ve Inherited,” held at Brick at the Blue Star Complex on July 19. This event will feature a keynote address and reading from Andrea VOCAB Sanderson, winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award granted by the San Antonio Artist Foundation, as well as readings from Pablo Miguel Martínez and Ira Sukrungruang, with Trinity University’s Norma Cantú serving as moderator.
The second off-site event takes place on July 20 at Studio Gallery at Ruby City. Entitled “Wide Open Spaces: Location of the Individual Within Many Places,” the evening will feature readings from Analicia Sotelo, Camille Acker, and Andre Dubus III, with a Q&A to be moderated by San Antonio College’s Patricia Portales. The conversation takes place against the backdrop of the new exhibit Looking for Langston.
The conference runs from July 19 through July 21 at the iconic El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel. To register for the Writers Conference and to learn more about these upcoming events, visit www.geminiink.org or call (210) 734-9673. Day passes will also be available on-site July 20 and 21.