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In the spirit of San Antonio poet and philanthropist Aline B. Carter who sought to champion young writers, Maverick Carter House and Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s Literary Arts Center, are hosting a poetry contest for 11th and 12th graders throughout the city of San Antonio.

As Texas Poet Laureate (1947) and the founder of Poetry Day in Texas, Aline B. Carter sought to not only promote poetry as a means of self expression, but to foster a strong poetic tradition rooted in her hometown of San Antonio and Texas culture. With that in mind, this poetry contest calls on San Antonio’s 11th and 12th-grade poets to write poems that capture the essence of the River City.

Award-winning poets from San Antonio will judge this contest and select winners in the following categories:


1st place – $1,000 prize
2nd place – $500 prize
3rd place – $250 prize


Best poem written in form (haiku, sonnet, etc.): $100 prize
Best free verse poem: $100 prize
Best bilingual/ Spanish poem: $100


San Antonio, My City. What does San Antonio mean to you? What is its essence? Can you capture the spirit of the city, your neighborhood, your street with words? Will you give a voice to the sound of crickets by the riverside at night or the chatter of your family around the dinner table? Can you capture the lights of the cityscape after dark or the scorch of a San Antonio heatwave? If this city was a flavor, what would it be? These questions are just a starting point. Let your experience of San Antonio guide and inspire your contest entry. Send us your original sonnet, haiku, free verse poem, or any other poetry style you prefer.

Deadline Extended to: Friday, March 22nd

Winners will be contacted on Friday, April 12th and will be invited to a celebratory reading for contest winners on Saturday, April 20th at Maverick Carter House.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submissions must be received or postmarked by 11:59 pm (CST) on March 15th.
  • Contestants may submit up to TWO unpublished poems (75 lines max each) in any style, with one poem per page.
  • This contest is open only to 11th and 12th graders throughout San Antonio.
  • Poems in English and Spanish are welcome.
  • All poems must CLEARLY reflect San Antonio in topic and/or setting.
  • Poems may not contain inappropriate or offensive language or subject matter.
  • All poems must be single-spaced and written in black, 12-point font in Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica.
  • If submitting electronically, include all poems in one Word Doc or PDF file.
  • Poems exceeding one page must have each page clearly numbered with the poem’s title (or partial title if the title is too long) and page number appearing on each page in the upper right corner.
  • Do not include any identifiable information (i.e. writer’s name, school, etc.) on the poem. All submissions will be read blind.
  • Please submit poems previously unpublished in literary magazines, anthologies, or full-length collections of poetry. Work published only on social media/ personal pages is also eligible.
  • Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines or to the contest theme will not be considered.
  • Poems may be submitted electronically through Submittable on Gemini Ink’s submission page at or mailed in to Gemini Ink at this address:

Attn: Aline B Carter Poetry Prize
Gemini Ink
1111 Navarro St.
San Antonio, TX 78205

  • Mailed-in submissions must include a cover page and be postmarked by the submission deadline. The cover letter must include name, address, email, phone number, titles of submitted poems, school, and grade.  

For further questions, contact Florinda Flores-Brown at You may also call Gemini Ink at 210.734.9673.

CONTACT: Amanda Ireta-Goode, Development Director

[SAN ANTONIO, TX | June 12, 2018] —


Gemini Ink to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts


National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to Gemini Ink to support a year of extraordinary literary activities, creative writing classes and public literary events that celebrate Gemini Ink’s 25th birthday and beyond. Gemini Ink serves over 3,000 residents and engages many more through print and digital outreach. Highlights throughout the city include free readings at a variety of venues, our yearly Autograph Series reading and ticketed luncheon with groundbreaking, nationally-recognized authors; a series of pláticas (public conversations) exploring San Antonio’s unique literary history; fair cost writing workshops with local and regional writers, and a summer Writers Conference that addresses issues of vital importance to contemporary writers. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Gemini Ink in San Antonio, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“At Gemini Ink, we pride ourselves on being an ever-evolving, community-centered organization, that brings diverse voices and perspectives to San Antonio while honoring and celebrating the rich local literary culture. Part of our mission is building a sense of literary community that crosses borders of age, race, and class and joins together the varied sections of San Antonio to enjoy and celebrate what literary arts offer,” said Gemini Ink Interim Executive Director Alexandra van de Kamp. “This Art Works grant from the NEA allows us to continue to expand the array of literary offerings we can provide the city of San Antonio, such as the Gemini Ink Writers Conference, which takes place in late July, and brings writers from all over Texas and the country to discuss issues pivotal to the contemporary American literary landscape. We are thrilled to receive such support.”
For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit

This summer, author Tina Barry will be teaching Gemini Ink’s very first online workshop, “Go Small or Go Home: The Art of Microfiction.”

Gemini Ink spoke with Barry about the rising popularity of short forms of prose, her current projects, and her upcoming online workshop.

Tina Barry is a freelance writer and the author of Mall Flower, a collection of poems and short fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2015). Her work has been published in The Best Short Fiction 2016, Drunken Boat and The American Poetry Journal, among other publications, and has been nominated for two Pushcart prizes. Barry earned her MFA in creative writing in 2014 from Long Island University in Brooklyn. She currently serves as a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and a writing tutor for SUNY Ulster. Barry lives in the Hudson Valley, New York. Visit Tina at


Gemini Ink: Your background is mainly in poetry. What drove you to start writing microfiction? How is it different from some of your prose poems?

Tina Barry: Actually, I didn’t start writing poetry until I was in graduate school. I was first a writer of short fiction. There’s a fine line between my prose poems and fiction. I’m working on a series now that I call “poem stories.” The language is rich and the plots aren’t always linear; the pieces teeter between both forms. There’s so much to borrow from prose poems and narrative poems, so I’ll be using lots of them as examples in “Go Small or Go Home: The Art of Microfiction,” Gemini Ink’s first online workshop.

GI: What do you think is one of the most rewarding parts of writing short pieces, especially microfiction?

TB: Short pieces, long pieces—to start with nothing and end up with a story is thrilling.

GI: Who have you read in the past that really inspired you to write microfiction?

TB: Guy de Maupassant was an early influence. Lydia Davis, Amy Hempel, there are so many. I read and continue to read narrative poets such as Sharon Olds, Matthew Dickman, and Kim Addonizio whose poems tell such rich stories.

GI: What project(s) are you currently working on?

TB: I’ve been working on a series of short pieces about Virginia Haggard, Marc Chagall’s lover, and her daughter, five-year-old Jean McNeil. Both are fascinating women for many reasons, and yet they don’t always appear in historical accounts of Chagall. I wanted to allow the women to speak, so my “poem stories” are written in Virginia’s and Jean’s voices. In late October, I’m curating a show at the Wired Gallery in High Falls, NY, a small village where I live, and where Chagall, Haggard and McNeil lived from 1946-1948. The gallery is situated on the same street where the family resided. The show includes 14 women artists, working in styles that range from illustration to site-specific installations, who will each interpret a different story from the series. It’s really satisfying to introduce Haggard and McNeil to people who may not have heard of them, and to bring more attention to the artists’ work.

GI: Describe your first writing desk.

TB: I was a textile designer before I became a writer, so I used my old worktable. I still write on an artist’s table; I like to put paper clips and odds and ends in the little plastic wells.

GI: Recently, a number of different kinds of short fiction have gained popularity: flash fiction, nano-fiction and microfiction, among others. What do you make of that?

TB: We now communicate in short form: Twitter, emails, texts, etc., so writing creatively in that way seems natural. Online journals popularized the form too, so there’s more interest than ever in writing and reading it. I’m always perusing Flash Frontier, Connotation Press, Blue Five Notebook, and Five:2:One.

GI: What is your favorite piece of writing advice?

TB: The creative non-fiction writer and novelist Jo Ann Beard told me that if I read my work before submitting it for a critique, it’s like reading with s—t-colored glasses. You only see the flaws. It was good advice.

GI: Who are you reading right now?

TB: Margaret Atwood. I’m just about to reread The Handmaid’s Tale. I read the book in 1985 when it was first published. I found the maids’ predicaments harrowing then. Now, with the #MeToo movement and so many women’s rights under attack, Atwood’s story should resonate even more.

Mark your calendars: Saretta Morgan will be reading with Natalie Diaz and Joe Jimenez at The Twig Book Shop on December 13. Free and open to the public. 

Gemini Ink recently asked Saretta Morgan a series of questions on her writing process and sources of inspiration. During our conversation, we learned about her “Youtube University,” the challenges of collaborating artistically with a romantic partner, and the importance of literary community.

by Alexandra van de Kamp


1) If you had one piece of advice to offer a young, just-setting-out writer, or even an experienced one, what would it be?

Find the literary communities that are generating work that speaks to you, and where writers are relating to one another in a way that nourishes and challenges you. Then do the work of helping those communities grow.

This is one way to put yourself in meaningful conversation with the writers you admire and with your future readers. I strongly believe that such conversations are how we resist the categorizations that relegate many forms of anti-conformist writing to the margins.


2) Describe a writing “space” or desk you have encountered in your journey as an artist which was truly fruitful for you in some way. Or feel free to evoke one especially less-than-convenient writing space you had to grapple with!

I work well in tight spaces with low but consistent ambient noise. There’s something about feeling surrounded that helps me focus. Last year I had a studio residency on the 34th floor of a skyscraper in lower Manhattan. The view was expansive. Incredible. In the morning I could watch the sun rise and gold the east river. At night the other buildings made a constellation of rectangular lights throughout the city. I got almost no writing done those entire 9 months. But I loved reading and wondering there. And drawing, sometimes. The long view made everything seem possible.


3) Can you name a source you return to for ongoing or periodic creative inspiration?

I like to put on lectures or panel discussions and listen to them while I wash the dishes, or twist my hair. My friend, the poet and photographer Ariel Goldberg, and I have a slowly expanding collection of online lectures (recently podcasts have entered the circulation, but I’ve yet to master that technology). We call it our “Youtube University,” for lack of a better title, which is a solid little archive for me to pull from when I want to engage with something but can’t figure out where my mind wants to go.

Hortense Spillers has two lectures online that I watch a lot. In one, she presents black culture as the ongoing project of saving the planet, which is a pretty rad way to think about blackness. The other is a project of analyzing intimacy under conditions of slavery in pursuit of (one hopes) new forms of love.

Currently I’m listening to Mabel Wilson’s “Other Monumentalities.” Wilson talks about the need to analyze the technology of slave labor as it relates to the Smithsonian’s that line our National Mall—the buildings that come to house and represent national narratives around cultural, educational and civic evolution in the United States. In other words: to think beyond the irony of slaves building monuments to freedom.


4) As a multi-media artist who seems to revel in exploring the idea of “text” and how it can be presented in a variety of ways, how do you feel about the role of the book as a physical, page-turning object in our contemporary culture?  

belladonna chapbooksThere are things that I appreciate about books. Holding them. Gifting them unexpectedly. Passing them back and forth with friends. I enjoy printed photocopies of writing too, though they get torn or smushed quickly. I’m not a very careful person (I really USE my literature, bound and unbound—I fold pages, write in margins, carry them in my bags for weeks).

One really great thing about books over most electronic reproductions is all of the extra information relayed through design. I recently received four very small books throughout the course of one day. Youmna Chlala’s Can You See Us, William Pope L.’s Black People are Cropped, and the two most recent additions to Belladonna*’s chaplet series.

Each of those books has a different feel. Youmna’s book has a gorgeous collage which folds out from the center. The text and image on her front cover almost disappear depending on the lighting conditions and the angle you view it from, while at other times they appear bold and definite (an interesting play off the title). The Belladonna* chaplets are printed in limited editions of 126 and bound in a fairly light-weight cardstock—factors that make them feel precious and ephemeral. Pope L.’s little book feels old school. All of these differences have a real influence on how I read the text.


5) What is your next project?

I just completed a small collaboration with Natalie Diaz, who, in addition to being an amazing poet, essayist and artist, is my love. It’s our first project together: a chapbook with text from me and drawings she made in response, which is now entering production mode. Most of the artist couples I know admit that collaborating with a romantic partner requires a lot of practice, and we’ve found that to be true. But it also feels rewarding, and important and makes me excited about future projects.

And I just submitted a proposal for a small book + photo essay examining internalized violence as a form of political resentment.

Lastly, there is a small dream of traveling to Waco, TX in the next couple months. My knowledge of my paternal lineage ends there in 1885. I want to do some kind of video work in that area. I have a lot of footage of our farm in Florida (where my father’s family has been for the past three generations) that I shot a couple years ago, and I want to see what might happen if I put the two up against each other.

Announcing our 2017-2018 Poetry Mentees

We’re thrilled to announce that our 2017 Poetry Mentor Barbara Ras has chosen her two mentees for the 2017-2018 year. Congratulations to Lisbeth White and Zoë Fay-Stindt for being selected. Thank you to all the poets who submitted their wonderful poetry manuscripts. It was such a talented pool of applicants this year, and we appreciate your giving us a chance to consider your work.

Take the next step in your writing life

Apply for the Gemini Ink Mentorship Program.

Work one-on-one with a nationally recognized author on a manuscript project.


Apply to the Gemini Ink 2017 Mentorship Program and be one of two writers chosen to work one-on-one with a nationally recognized poet or prose writer.  The 2017 Mentorship will be dedicated to poetry, and the mentor will be poet Barbara Ras.

The 2017 Gemini Ink Mentorship Program is open to poets from Texas and from all 50 States.


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.



Darrell PittmanDarrell Pittman is a husband, father of three, educator and poet. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980 and taught in the public school system in San Antonio until 2013. His interests include enjoying basketball, football, track, art galleries, jazz, community theater and anything science fiction. His statement on poetry: “I try to touch the heart, inspire the mind and move the soul. However, if I get one of the three, I am happy.” He would also like to publicly thank the person who decided to butter the pecans before putting them into the ice cream.


  • The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni 1968-1998 by Nikki Giovanni

I am a poet and I love poetry. Nikki Giovanni is my favorite poet. Guess who is my number one. In this book, Nikki’s poetry spans her 1960’s “Burn Baby Burn” attitudes all the way to her “true power is knowing yourself and acting on that truth” beliefs.

  • The Last Poem on The Last Day by Charles L. Peters

This book of poetry cuts through the leathery skin of egotism and the need to blame others for our failures in love relationships. It slices into the heart of truth in self-responsibility and self-awareness. Truly a great example of finding one’s self through self-examination and perspective.

This novel works on so many levels. I found it fascinating as an example of how the males dominate society even cross-culturally. My eyes were opened to the inner and daily workings of Nigerian life and relationships. Poignant and humorous, this book was a great read.

  • Green: Surviving the Murder of Self by D. Malone

Sexual and physical abuse is an insidious crime that seethes behind closed curtains and doors in our society. This book is a personal narrative of a woman’s journey to overcome years of abuse to rediscover her true self and actually find that the sky can be blue.

This was an extremely important book for my daughter’s self-image as she grew. It had images of children who realistically looked like her. It had images that looked like her cousins and friends. She could see that people like her are worthy of being in books and are important. That is a powerful concept for children to have. Self-worth is a powerful catalyst for the young.

Although this book is over 400 pages, it’s actually an easy read. Broken into short sections, it allows readers to peruse areas of history that intrigue them and read about it in detail. The title says it all. It’s very informative and a good tool for digging deeper into historical misconceptions one may already be aware of.

  • This Life by Sidney Poitier

Sidney’s life is an example of triumph through adversity and how dignity, hard work, and focus can allow anyone to achieve success in areas of their choosing. Hey, it’s Sidney Poitier … who doesn’t like Sidney Poitier (smile)?

  • Siswe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard (play)Raisin in the Sun

Who reads plays like they are regular prose fiction or nonfiction? I do, that’s who. This play is a phenomenal metaphor for the Black man losing his identity in an effort to become successful. Not outrageously successful but just surviving or “getting by” type of successful. Well written and sociologically poignant.

This classic tale of the African-American family and its journey to have its “children do better than we did” is a powerful read. Racism, transgenerational conflicts, assimilation versus cultural identity, feminism, the cancer of hopelessness and the power of hope.Raisin in the Sun is a must-read for everyone.

I have “used” this book more than any book I have. I pull quotes for my personal daily life, for papers I have written, for poems I have written and for giving wisdom to people who seek my advice. This book contains quotes and sayings that Black people of the world have said. It has precise perspectives to things that affect us, in our daily lives. I recommend everyone buy this “pocket carrier” book.