Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s center for the literary arts, launched its inaugural Writers Conference July 21–34 at the historic El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel. The conference, whose focus was the state of the book, created a space for more than 170 writers and readers at all levels to engage in a dynamic, multicultural conversation with authors from around the country.
Attendees could take workshops with five master writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; choose from twenty-seven panels; browse a small press book fair; and attend evening readings and after-parties. The rich array of panels addressed everything from trade paperbacks and e-books to the genre-bending world of contemporary nonfiction and the cutting edge of LGBTQ literature.
The conference kicked off Thursday evening with a reception at El Tropicano featuring a performance by San Antonio spoken word poet Rooster Martinez. Friday’s keynote address by Tom Payton, director of Trinity University Press, laid the groundwork for a stimulating discussion on what the book is and might become.
Gemini Ink was thrilled to host visiting writers Tim Seibles, the new poet laureate of Virginia; Janet Kaplan, an award-winning New York poet; novelist and memoirist Reyna Grande, from Los Angeles; Tim Z. Hernandez, a performance poet and historical novelist; and John Phillip Santos, the first Mexican American Rhodes Scholar. Each writer taught a three-hour intensive workshop with practical advice and new sources of inspiration for writing.
Free evening events included readings by visiting and local authors and music with DJ Rynel on Friday at Viva Tacoland, an open-air lounge along the River Walk; and an author event Saturday evening with Rynel at the Southwest School of Art.
The conference had an inclusive, fun, creative, and relaxed vibe and offered a wonderful opportunity for writers to network, make new literary friends, and gain stimulating new ideas for their work. We’re excited to do it all over again next year.
Alexandra Vandekamp is a writer and the Creative Writing Classes Program Director of Gemini Ink.