“We plan to work hard but have fun and bring a really nice diverse range of writers and publishers together to talk literature for four days in a relaxed, inclusive environment,” said Alexandra van de Kamp, Gemini Ink creative writing classes program director.
The theme for the inaugural conference is “The State of the Book.” It’s programming will include workshops, panels, roundtables, small press fairs, readings and after parties to discuss how books are evolving. Van de Kamp expects about 100 people at the conference, including panelists. Tickets are still available here at a rate of $75 for students, $100 for members and $150 for nonmembers.
Van de Kamp said the 28 panels attack “the state of the book” from many different angles. One panel will discuss the evolving role of e-books in literature, one will delve into the “zine” movement and another will examine the use of chapbooks — and that’s just on Friday.
Some of Saturday’s panels include “New Voices in LGBT Writing,” “Emerging Texas Poets: The Journey to the First Book” and “Publishing Latina Art/ists.”
Gemini Ink Executive Director Sheila Black said she intentionally tried to make the panelist roster as diverse as possible “to reflect the demographics of San Antonio.” Some panelists are natives, including filmmaker and writer John Phillip Santos and Texas Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero. Other panelists hail from El Paso, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, or outside Texas such as New York poet Janet Kaplan and Virginia-based African American poet Tim Seibles.
The keynote speaker, however, is one of our own — Tom Payton, director of Trinity University Press.
“These are writers that I think young students from San Antonio and the area don’t often get a chance to get up close and personal with,” Black said. “Students and young people are important voices that we need in our national literary discourse. They are the writers of the future.”
In addition to a diverse panelist lineup, Black and Van de Kamp hope for a diverse group of attendees. Ticket prices may appear steep, but Black said their prices are about a quarter of the cost of admission into other literary conferences around the country.
The intention behind keeping prices low, she said, was to encourage more than just the wealthy elite to attend, especially students, who are offered a sizeable discount.
A secondary goal of the conference is to showcase San Antonio as an “up-and-coming cultural gem of a city” as well as a city with a booming literary scene, albeit one facing several challenges.
“San Antonio has always had a pretty vibrant literary scene but at same time, a couple years ago Time Magazine ranked it 60th in literacy, and we have had real issues of access to literary arts and education in many corners of our city,” Black said. “Arts organizations feel a lot of responsibility to try and broaden access to the arts to as wide an audience as possible.”
In an effort to combat those challenges, Gemini Ink also will host free and open to the public events Friday and Saturday evening to encourage those who couldn’t afford a ticket to participate and mingle with the panelists.
On Friday night, the conference will host a free author reading and after party from 7-11 p.m. at Viva Tacoland.
They will host another free public reading and after party from 6-10 p.m. Saturday at the Coates Chapel on the Southwest School of Art campus. The event will feature readings by author Reyna Grande and poet Seibles, two nationally renowned visiting writers, and two local literary talents including Guerrero. There will be a cash bar and music from DJ Bonnie Cisneros.
For more information, visit Gemini Ink’s website here.
Top image: The 2011 Young Writers Camp at Gemini Ink. Photo courtesy of Gemini Ink.