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This is a free peer-driven workshop facilitated by Gemini Ink volunteers Dario Beniquez and John McLennon—held the last Monday of every month. Bring 6-10 copies of your work to share. Open to all writers.

Our four judges have just gotten back to us with the results of the “30 Poems for the Tricentennial” Poetry Contest. And we are happy to say that after considering quite an extraordinarily high-quality group of over 300 submissions, they have selected the following 30 winning poems for publication in the chapbook, Thirty Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy.

The 30 selected poems will be interpreted into 2D works of art by local artists and designers to be installed in the City of San Antonio’s Culture Commons Gallery for a special exhibit.  

Thank you to all who submitted and congratulations to the winners.


Winning Poems

  1. “Drought in San Antonio” by Mariana Aitches
  2. “El Paradiso de Texas” by Dario Beniquez
  3. “Lily, Pad, and Pond” by Diane Bertrand
  4. “Anthem for the God of Justice” by Ariana Brown
  5. “Fray Damian Massanet Meets Los Payayas on June 13, 1691” by Jacinto Cardona
  6. “Lines in the Sand” by Carolyn Chatham
  7. “Esperanza” by Irene Chavez
  8. “The Hunter-Gather Could Swaddle in Deerskin” by Aaron Deutsch
  9. “One Sunday Morning at Travis Park United Methodist Church” by Cyra Dumitru
  10. “The First Jews of San Antonio” by Cassandra Farrin
  11. “Song for America V” by Fernando Esteban Flores
  12. “Heads or Tails” by Sofia Fortuno
  13. “dates in the 210” by John Fry
  14. “San Antonio River by Concepción Mission 1740” by Lisha Garcia
  15. “Rio Medina” by Joyce Henefield Coleman
  16. “Hijos Dalgos” by Lucas Jacob
  17. “La Verdad Olvidada” by Seres Jaime Magaña
  18. “Gone Yanaguana” by Pablo Miguel Martínez
  19. “Goat Man of San Antonio” by Robert McGowan
  20. “Ese Rinconcito del Mundo” by Regina Moya
  21. “remember” by Maya Obregon
  22. “La Posta del Palo Alto’ as San Antonio Poeta, 1935” by Kamala Platt
  23. “Merged Mundos” by Anjela Ratliff
  24. “A Three-Part Grito” by Bárbara Renaud González
  25. “Resurrection Song” by Ravi Shankar
  26. “Legacy of the Blue Hole”  by Linda Simone
  27. “San Antonio Son” by Burgin Streetman
  28. Yanaguana (prior to 1718) by Jon Tribble
  29. “Paleta-Man” by Eduardo Vega
  30. “Honey Mesquite Dreams the People” by Mobi Warren

Contest Closed

In honor of San Antonio’s Tricentennial, the Department of Arts and Culture of the City of San Antonio, with support from Gemini Ink, is sponsoring a poetry contest.

The contest will be judged by a panel of nationally recognized poets. Winners receive a $250 prize and publication in a chapbook titled, Thirty Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy. Winning poems will be turned into graphically designed vinyl installations by local artists and designers in an exhibit at the Plaza de Armas Gallery, and also installed in local libraries and city facilities. The anthology will be launched at a public reading and opening reception.

Contest Judges*

Rodney Gomez is the author of several award-winning poetry collections, including Mouth Filled with Night (Northwestern University Press, 2014) and A Short Tablature of Loss (Seven Kitchens Press, 2016). His newest collection Citizens of the Mausoleum is forthcoming in 2018 (Sundress Publication).

Patricia Spears Jones has won numerous honors in poetry, including the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for American Poets. Her most recent collection is: A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (2015).

Urayoán Noel is the author of award-winning poetry collections, both in English and Spanish, most recently Buzzing Hemisphere (2015) and the acclaimed literary study Invisible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (2014).

Sasha West’s first book of poems, Failure and I Bury the Body (Harper Perennial 2013), was a winner of the National Poetry Series and the Texas Institute of Letters First Book Award.

Themes and Categories

The contest contains six categories, described below, which span San Antonio’s dynamic 300-year history. Poems submitted need not be overtly “historical,” but must reference the culture/feeling/life of San Antonio during these different time periods.

  1. The Pre-Columbian era or Yanaguana (prior to 1718)

Yanaguana was the name the Payaya Indians gave their village, which is now the Bexar County area. It was a place abundant with water and fish. Poems submitted in this category might seek to summon San Antonio’s history before the arrival of the Spaniards and speak to the roots of the Payaya and their lands.

  1. The Spanish Colonial Period (1718-1809)

During this era, the Spanish colonizers strived to spread Christianity to the Native Americans living throughout different areas of Texas, including San Antonio. The San Antonio missions served as centers of power and religion where missionaries and friars saw their task as “educating” Native Americans. Poems in this category may reflect on the changes in culture, daily life, religion and architecture that took place during this time.

  1. Mexican era (1810-1836)

This era traces the origins of Anglo settlement in South Texas, the beginning of a Tejano identity, and the growing strife around Santa Anna, who was President of Mexico during this period. Poems in this category might touch on the political upheaval that took place during this time or trace the emergent Tejano identity.

  1. Texas Nation era (1836-1846)

This period encompasses the Battle of the Alamo, led by Santa Anna, which took place in the Spring of 1836. “Remember the Alamo” was the battle cry that originated from this time. On April 21st, Texas won the Battle of San Jacinto and gained its independence. April’s Fiesta celebrations commemorate this battle. Poems in this category might use Fiesta or one of these two battles, among other commemorable events, as inspiration or starting point for reflection.

  1. San Antonio: Crossroads City (1846-1946)

After the Alamo, San Antonio became a home for many immigrants, including Germans seeking religious freedom. As revolutionaries fled to San Antonio, the Mexican Revolution began to take form. Up through World War II, San Antonio experienced immense growth in cattle culture, population and educational and civic institutions. Poems in this category might reflect on some of these political and cultural shifts.

  1. Modern Times (1947-2017)

During this period, the Chicano Movimiento was born in Texas. The Mexican American Youth Organization helped to move it forward while figures such as Emma Tenayuca fought for greater equality in the workplace. Poems in this category may focus on a number of different themes, including these cultural movements or others such as the rise of the Spurs basketball team, or the metamorphosis of the city into a contemporary vibrant metro center.

For further questions, contact Alexandra van de Kamp at or Sheila Black at You may also call Gemini Ink at 210.734.9673.

30 poems supporters

Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson & Christopher “Rooster” Martinez

Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson & Christopher “Rooster” Martinez

Spoken Word Poetry Youth Workshop
Instructors: Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson & Christopher “Rooster” Martinez
Sun, Jul 23, 9am–12:30pm (Celebratory reading follows from 1:45-2:45pm)
Cost: $35/student (includes access to Saturday book fair and panels, and Sunday workshop and reading)

The Spilled Ink Project is a writing workshop for young people to learn about the craft of spoken word poetry and create original work while receiving feedback and direction from locally renowned writers and performers—Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson & Christopher “Rooster” Martinez. The Spilled Ink Project is designed for youth writers (13-17 years-old) of any experience level. Participants will craft writing in the vein of spoken word poetry, discuss how spoken word differentiates itself from page poetry, and practice techniques to help translate a writer’s words from page to performance.

An afternoon performance will follow the workshop and offer participants an opportunity to perform their newly created work in a supportive environment, with Vocab and Rooster Emceeing.


Register Here

You can also apply for a scholarship to attend this workshop

Access the discounted rate at the historic downtown El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel.

This rate includes free self-parking.

Questions, contact Lupe Hernandez at 210.277.4043.

el tropicana


Aïssatou Sidimé-BlantonAïssatou Sidimé-Blanton is past curator and a board member of the San Antonio Ethnic Arts Society, a more than 35-year old arts organization that coordinates public art exhibits and raises funds to underwrite artistic training for youth in San Antonio, Texas. Aïssatou and her husband Stewart Blanton are the inspiration and chief underwriters of the Abaraka Awards, grants that SAEAS provides to African American women artist and arts professionals. She was a Gemini Ink board director from 2010-2014.

As we’re celebrating Black History Month from a literary perspective, Gemini Ink and I thought we’d look at the intersections between the visual and literary in some things I love—painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography—visual arts.

In consultation with some great artist friends, I’m offering this starter list of some of my favorites, in alphabetical order:

  1. Faith Ringgold, New Jersey artist, whose story quilts have spawned at least one celebrated book, Tar Beach, and whose initial support helped launch a children’s museum, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.

    Faith Ringgold "9/11 Peace Story Quilt"

    Faith Ringgold “9/11 Peace Story Quilt”

  2. Adrian Piper, a philosophy professor, uses drawings, text, video and performance to challenge audiences to examine themselves and their relationship to the world around them. She was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist of the 2015 Venice Biennale.
  3. Kadir Nelson, children’s book illustrator and author, who’s won multiple Coretta Scott King, Caldecott, and other children’s book awards, for works, such as We are the Ship, Heart and Soul, Mighty Casey and A Day at the Beach.
  4. Glenn Ligon broke onto the art scene with paintings loaded with text from one of my favorite authors, Zora Neale Hurston, as well as Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison. He also re-interprets Afrocentric coloring books.
  5. Annette Lawrence, a Fort Worth artist who uses numbers, words, and excerpts of writings to create geometric patterns, volume, and space that are both intimately personal and universal.

    Annette Lawrence

    Annette Lawrence, “Installation at UNT on the Square”

  6. Robert Hodge, Houston-based artist who uses Renaissance imagery, Hip Hop and other contemporary artistic references that float through the landscapes of many paintings.
  7. Maren Hassinger, Director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art, uses newspaper in sculptures, installations, and dance costumes that are both a commentary on the news of the day as well as an homage to paper itself.
  8. Nathaniel Donnett (Houston) uses what he calls a Dark Imaginarence, a pan-diasporic artistic approach that reflects the common socio-political and creative practices of Black people worldwide, to examine self and society.
  9. Hank Willis Thomas uses advertising techniques to question socio-economic practices, identity, history and popular culture. In 2015, Thomas cofounded For Freedoms, an artist-run super Pac.
  10. Christopher Blay, a Fort Worth photographer and curator of the Art Corridor Gallery at Tarrant County College Southeast, whose videos employ an alter ego, Frank Artsmarter, to provide biting, visual commentary on the art world.
  11. Michael Ray Charles, University of Houston professor and a former college basketball player in my hometown Lake Charles, LA., came to fame nationwide for crafting the artwork in Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled that draws on historical advertising signage motifs and American minstrel shows/blackface to challenge racial stereotypes.
  12. Ann “Sole Sister” Johnson, Prairie View A&M professor and Houston resident, who gained fame for painting portraits with her feet, refers to herself as an experimental printmaker. She favors leaves, feathers, plastic eyeglass lenses, mirrors—anything but paper. Ann’s Roux Girls collective is shaking up printmaking in Houston with its annual exhibitions.
  13. Vicki Meek, the champion arts advocate, and administrator who built the South Dallas Cultural center into its current artistic glory, often incorporates quotes from historical figures, poets, and herself into artwork that challenge power structures as it relates to equal justice, misogyny, class, and aging.
  14. Deborah Roberts, the Austin painter and Presidential “Point of Light” honoree, attracted attention for her oil paintings of social issues facing African Americans and her laser-sharp political commentary continues in her current monoprints and acrylic works that focus on names and the value we place on names depending on the ethnicity we assign each name.