An Interview with Gemini Ink

“Gemini Ink prides itself on being a cutting-edge community-centered literary arts center. We really try to bring the latest literary news–the most exciting writers and developments in literary arts around the country–to San Antonio.”
-Sheila Black, Gemini Ink

Here at the Writers’ League of Texas, we love to highlight other literary organizations throughout the state that are doing great work. From July 21 to July 24, Gemini Ink, located in San Antonio, Texas, is hosting their inaugural Gemini Ink Writers Conference. Writers’ League members can sign up for the conference at a reduced rate. Read the interview below for more details on Gemini Ink, the conference, and how to sign up.
gemini-ink-logoScribe: Tell us about Gemini Ink and the kinds of programming you offer.
Sheila Black: Gemini Ink is an independent literary arts center. We were founded by the amazing Texas writer and teacher Nan Cuba, who took the organization from a volunteer run reading series to a multi-program non-profit. Our mission is simple: to help people create and share the human story.
We enact this mission through five core programs: Writers in Communities (WIC), Creative Writing Classes (CWC), Open Classroom, the Mentorship Program, the Gemini Ink Writers Conference. You can read about these programs on our website.
Gemini Ink prides itself on being a cutting-edge community-centered literary arts center. We really try to bring the latest literary news–the most exciting writers and developments in literary arts around the country–to San Antonio. We work steadily to support writers–at whatever stage of their craft–to nurture the art of writing as an essential life practice.
Scribe: At the Writers’ League, we love learning about thriving literary communities throughout Texas. What are some of your favorite aspects of the San Antonio literary community?
SB: There is so much I am excited about in the San Antonio literary community!  But one of the things I love most is how connected the writers here are to place–to San Antonio itself. You see this in the writers we produce–no matter how different they are in style or subject, they always infuse their work with a strong sense of this place. Another key to our literary community is the totally amazing spoken word poets we have in this city. You can find great spoken word poetry in every corner of San Antonio, every night of the week. That’s something to really celebrate, and it might be one reason why recently so many of our Texas Poet Laureates have been poets from San Antonio.
Scribe: The topic for your upcoming Gemini Ink Writers Conference is “The State of The Book.” Can you elaborate a little more on this theme and how it informs the conference programming?
Alexandra Vandekamp: We decided to focus on this theme of “The State of the Book” at our inaugural Gemini Ink Writers Conference because the American literary scene is evolving so rapidly, and the form of the book itself is morphing in that landscape. Our idea for this conference is to create a space for a dynamic, multi-cultural conversation on all things books, both from a craft perspective and a commercial one. The conference will last from July 21 through July 24. During these four days, we will be offering writers of all levels, beginners to published authors, chances to push their craft in new, exciting directions and to interact with other writers from all over Texas and the country.
During this conference, there will also be free public programming in the evening with author events and live music.  Friday night we are hosting an event at Viva Tacoland, an open-air lounge along the San Antonio Riverwalk, and Saturday night is another author event with a DJ at the Southwest School of Art campus. We are after an inclusive, highly creative, yet relaxed vibe at this conference, and for that reason our tagline is: serious. literary. fun. You can find more info on our website.
Scribe: The conference includes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry workshops for registrants to attend. What should attendees expect in these workshops?
AV: Attendees should expect highly creative, intimate workshops (we cap off at 15 for each one) that are generative in nature. In other words, we want the participants in these classes to absorb advice, information and new sources of inspiration for their writing as well as actually produce and generate new work while in the class. The idea is to have each workshop participant walk away with new tools, prompts, and a reservoir of creative ideas to fuel future writing. For a full description of each workshop, including pricing, visit our website.
Scribe: Besides the conference, what other upcoming Gemini Ink programs should San Antonio writers put on their calendars?
AV: We are quite excited about our Fall 2016 roster of authors and will be hosting the Iraqi War Veteran and award-winning poet and memoirist, Brian Turner, author of the book of poems Here, Bullet, and the memoir My Life as  Foreign Country. He’s a powerful speaker on being both a poet and soldier. In addition, we will be bringing to San Antonio the Bangladeshi-American poet, Tarfia Faizullah, whose first book of poems, Seam, takes on issues of violence and especially violence towards women. One main sequence in the book imagines the process of a Bangledeshi-American female interviewer speaking with a birangona, a bangladeshi woman raped by Pakistani soldiers during the 1971 Liberation War. Faizullah’s poems are also startling for their use of language and are just memorable literary experiences. Matthew Donovan, a wonderful essayist, will also be joining us to teach a workshop on melding the visual and literary arts.
We also also excited about the local writers who will be teaching workshops for us in the fall, such as the writer, J.R. Helton, who has devised his own form of “autobiographical fiction” and is the author of such novels as Drugs. A Novel and Jugheads. He’s a writer who has been called “the next Bukowski” for his unapologetic, edgy style. He’s also a veteran writing teacher and we are excited about his 4-week class. And Joe Jimenez is a local poet and YA author who will be offering a class on Young Adult fiction that I think will be very dynamic for anyone interested in breaking into that genre. These are just a few examples of the authors we are thrilled to be a part of our fall programming.
In the fall and throughout the year, we will also be hosting an array of literary events throughout the city, such as our monthly author reading and open mic at Viva Tacoland, an open air lounge along the San Antonio River Walk.  This is just a great relaxed space to hear great writing in, and we are looking forward to continuing it this fall.  We even have a Viva Tacoland cocktail named in our honor called, The Gemini. Hint: its key ingredient is cucumber vodka. We will also be hosting other author events at different locations in the city. In the spring 2017 we will be bringing U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera to San Antonio, which we are thrilled about. Our Writing in Communities Program, headed by Jen Knox, will be continuing to bring creative writing to all corners of the city by offering free classes in senior centers, homeless shelters, and school districts that would otherwise not have the resources to do so, among other sites. We will also be offering a fun series for lit lovers called Nights of Noir, which will look at some classics of noir fiction, such as The Maltese Falcon and others.

Thanks Shelia, Alexandra, and the Gemini Ink team!
For more information about Gemini Ink, visit their website.
Writers’ League members can register for the Gemini Ink Conference at the reduced member rate. Just call (210) 734-9673 and mention membership in the Writers’ League of Texas. WLT members may also email Alexandra Vandekamp at avandekamp@geminiink.org or Hayley Trimmer at info@geminiink.org with any questions or to sign up.

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