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TPR Paletas

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Mission Drive-In As students trade school days for summer, the historic Mission Drive-In Theatre will open its newly grassed lawns to families and individuals alike this Saturday, June 7. The historic venue has a new life and a new name: Mission Marquee Plaza…

Saturday’s highly anticipated family event in partnership with Gemini Ink, Paletas y Poesia, is set to begin at 4 p.m with various poetry and book readings, a DJ, a children’s skit and a live performance from the Bombasta Barrio Band which will get people out of their law chairs and on to the dance floor. San Antonio’s newly-minted poet laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero will read and perform at 7 p.m…

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laurieannguerreroSAN ANTONIO — An embroidered pillow on a chair in Laurie Ann Guerrero’s cozy South Side living room reads: Poetry is not a luxury.

For San Antonio’s recently named poet laureate — our second, after Carmen Tafolla— it certainly is not.

“I’ve always just felt things very viscerally,” she said. “I don’t write poems to offer answers or to preach or anything like that. I write poems because that’s the way I move through the world. As a mom, as a citizen of this state, this city, I need to deconstruct things, and poetry is the way I do that.”

Guerrero is the featured poet at Paletas y Poesía, a family-friendly event from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Mission Drive-In that kicks off Gemini Ink’s summer writing festival. The event features children’s activities with writing instructors, music by Bombasta Barrio Big Band, food trucks, and of course, paletas, those fruity Mexican ice pops.

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Like Houston’s Inprint, Gemini Ink in San Antonio provides writing classes, hosts readings, and supports writers in the community. When Tim O’Brien, Ha Jin, Grace Paley and Margaret Atwood burrow their way to Texas, the literary organizations offer them the stage. But bookstores, like Houston’s Brazos or San Antonio’s Twig, are the cultivators of the literary scene.

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david tomas martinez
“Memory,” says David Tomás Martínez, “is a funny thing, a knife we use to whittle our own narratives.”

Martínez, born to a 16-year-old mother in 1976 (who in turn was the daughter of a teenage mother) gangbanged in his native Southern California from age 15 to 20.

“I started to pull away then,” he said, “but still considered myself a gang member, even if I was not active, for many years afterwards.”

He had always liked to read, however — “I saw learning, being smart, as a rejection of vulnerability,” he said — and at 20 began a circuitous route from the U.S. Navy to Job Corps to college, which eventually landed him at the University of Houston. He will finish his doctorate in a year.

Martínez’s debut collection, “Hustle,” is raw and real, full of indelible imagery and lethal language. He will give a free public reading and participate in a luncheon conversation with novelist Robert Boswell on Thursday and Friday as part of Gemini Ink’s Autograph Series. He recently spoke with the Express-News.

Q. Is “Hustle” an accurate depiction of your journey from the barrio to the classroom to published poet?

A. “Hustle” chronicles many of the experiences I had during these years. I didn’t write poetry while I was in a gang; however, I have always had a curious mind and was then drawn to power, be it physical, mental or whatever, so even then I would come home at night and try to read philosophy that was completely impenetrable for my level of education then. I guess I equated knowledge with power…

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