Conference Panels


Saturday Panels


Starting Your Own Literary Journal
Speakers: Olivia Pridemore, Justin Patterson
Location: La Habana

Silver Needle Press is a new literary and artistic collective created to combat frustrating exclusivity within the publishing industry. The production process behind their first volume granted them valuable insights into the intricacies of starting a literary journal which writers and editors should find illuminating. The panel will discuss the logistical, ethical, and practical complexities of starting a literary journal. Effective marketing and business strategies will be covered as well.

Writing for the Digital Age: a Guide to Social Media Impact by the Experts (Teenagers)
Speakers: Katie Krantz, Olivia Kane
Location: Monte Cristo

Two teenagers will take you through the most effective uses of social media as a writer. This includes an overview of the most-used platforms and a look into how to use social media to find character ideas and categorize opinion platforms at the mass level (think reddit threads). We’ll teach you what not to share, how to find information at light speed, and how to spread your writing like a plague.


Writing Resistance/Embodying Diversity
Speakers: William M. Razavi, Emily Fitzgerald
Location: Partagas

We’ll discuss the notion of passive and active resistance to the disturbing trends in our current cultural climate. Will writers use their work to actively resist or use their very existence as a means of passively embodying the difference and diversity that is under attack?


Publishing in the 21st Century: An Editor, a Literary Writer, and a Genre Writer’s Perspectives
Speakers: Katie Hoerth, Gretchen Johnson, Jim Sanderson
Location: Bolivar B

How has publishing changed or not changed in this new century? The panelists will consider technology, genre, trends, hints, advice, and process. Katie Hoerth will offer advice from a literary editor’s perspective; Gretchen Johnson will discuss publishing poetry, short fiction, and fiction with a literary press; and Jim Sanderson will discuss writing and publishing genre novels.


Spotlight Orpheus: The Responsibility of the Poet in the New Millennium
Speakers: Octavio Quintanilla, Natalia Treviño, George Wallace
Location: La Habana

When it comes to the powers given to artists in society, the rules of the road go back 2500 years. This panel is an inquiry into the role of the sacred in the occupation and custodial powers of a poet. This diverse group will discuss poetry’s spiritual origins, how the sacred relates to poetics in the absence of credited methods and rituals for spiritual inquiry, and how they view a poet’s spiritual responsibility today.

The Hustle of Writing: Connecting with Other Writers, Promoting Your Work and Engaging Your Audience
Speakers: Xelena González, Jen Hamilton, Megan Kimble, Susan Johnston Taylor
Location: Monte Cristo

While many writers balk at the idea of “selling out,” the Internet, social media, self-publishing and blogging offer useful avenues for writers to get their work out there, connect with a network of writers, and develop a following. There is nothing more subversive than a writer, particularly a female writer and/or writer of color, circumventing the typical channels to publication by utilizing technology’s benefits. Join us as we discuss the hustle of writing.

World Building for the Fantasy Writer
Speakers: Chuck Etheridge, Devorah Fox, David Carpenter
(Location: Bolivar B)

Heading into the New Century, speculative fiction writing, specifically fantasy writing, is sure to experience a rise in popularity. Despite being many readers’ first foray into genre books, fantasy is challenging to write well. Beginning writers often struggle with building consistent “fantasy” worlds that make sense and include characters, be they dwarves, elves, humans, or imagined beings, that are well drawn and interesting. Our hands-on, participatory panel will outline the process of world-building in the fantasy novel.


Archiving the New Century: Strategies for Preserving Self-Taught, Local, and Regional Writers’ Archives
Speakers: Agnieszka Czeblakow, Julianna Barrera-Gomez, Kristin Law
Location: Monte Cristo

Although well-preserved archives benefit writers and researchers, many lack the knowledge, resources, or impetus to create and sustain their personal archives. Independent or unknown writers may underestimate the archival and research potential of their work for understanding a community’s cultural history. UTSA librarians and archivists will share practical tips and resources for the creation, organization, and long-term management of writers’ physical and digital archives.

Writing Parents: The Challenge and Promise of Writing about Generations
Speakers: Emmy Pérez, Kamala Platt, Britt Haraway, Mark Esperanza
Location: Bolivar B

Panelists will read work that explores family dynamics—the Confederate-Haunted South and its silences, being a parent in the borderlands and reflecting on one’s own childhood in urban California, grief and growing up on the Texas-Mexico border, and reflections on activism amid an administration set to ruin the planet. Writers will discuss the context of their subject choices and share the ups and downs of their writing processes. A Q&A session will follow.

From Darkness to Light: Contemporary Writers Address Addiction and Mental Illness
(Dr. Raymond Dean), Gretchen Rose, Gilbert Gonzales, Pat Shadek
Location: Partagas

This panel will delve into the maelstrom of today’s crises epidemic: opioid addiction, as well as touch upon mental illness and dual diagnosis. It will explore how contemporary voices writing on those subjects shine a light on these sensitive issues and help bring about healing.


Diversity in an Age of Divisiveness
Speakers: Norma Cantú, Vijay Seshadri, Anel Flores, Veronica Golos, Pablo Miguel Martinez, John Phillip Santos (M)
Location: La Habana

What does diversity mean today? What are the causes and challenges of our increasingly divisive rhetoric around diversity of all kinds? This public panel explores the kinds of literary models we can use to promote tolerance and understanding while honoring difference.

Translingual Authors: Writers Who Write in More than One Language
Speakers: Steven Kellman, Jasmina Wellinghoff, Natalia Treviño, Jimmy Adair, Mo Saidi
Location: Monte Cristo

Introducing writers such as Joseph Conrad, Salman Rushdie, Vladimir Nabokov, and a few others, the members will discuss the evolution of becoming a translingual author and writing in English as the second language. They also will present short samples of their own work and share their experience of writing in a language other than their primary one.

Unlocking the Mystery of the Author/ Agent Relationship
Speakers: Ann Collette, Jay Brandon
Location: Partagas

Learn from the pros themselves, seasoned Boston agent Ann Collette and best-selling crime thriller writer Jay Brandon, about the ins and outs of the agent/author relationship. They’ll guide you through finding an agent that is right for your style as well as the daily intricacies of maintaining a relationship with your agent. Gain invaluable, hands-on tips and advice for negotiating the world of agents.

Time to think in the Facebook Era
Speakers: Rooster Martinez, Viktoria Valenzuela, Chris Carmona, Claudia Cardona,
Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros
Location: Bolivar A

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat: all of these platforms allow writers constant and immediate access to their audience. How does this present new opportunities and challenges to writers? How do writers negotiate the worlds of online spaces and writing off-line in a time where 24/7 news coverage and social media actively feed and drain us? Five cutting-edge writers discuss how social media is changing the way we think.

Facing the Challenges of this Century: A Writer’s Perspective
Speakers: Aaron Doyle, D. L. Grant, Edna Goodman, Antoinette V. Franklin
Location: Bolivar B

Writers of the new century are facing challenges that involve gun control, tensions over building a wall along the Mexican-American border, immigration, and an out-of-control President. These are just some of the many issues contemporary writers have to stand firm against and bear. Join this group of authors as they discuss how this unpredictable new century is impacting them in terms of their writing methods and style and their views on the writer as activist.


Vulnerability as a Radical Act
Speakers: Laurie Filipelli, Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, Lisa Moore, Emily Pérez, Sasha West (M) Location: La Habana

What happens when we abandon artifice and armor in a poem? When we write into uncomfortable spaces? Risky speech acknowledges the porousness of a poem, letting us see the connective tissue between writer and writing, self and world. Panelists will explore how the poetics of vulnerability can enact transformation while resisting the culture of bluster, gaslighting, and dehumanizing rhetoric. Can a relationship forged in vulnerability between reader and writer allow for different kinds of change?

A Mestizaje of Forms: Mixed-Genre Writing as A Reflection of 21st Century Paradigms
Speakers: Daniel García Ordaz, Katie Hoerth, Edward Vidaurre, Jo Reyes Boitel
Location: Monte Cristo

Will mixed-genre writing thrive within the new century’s writing aesthetic or will publishers’ distaste for it persist? We live in the era of blended families, ethnicities, genders, races, languages, and sexual identities. But have these mixtures truly achieved acceptance as the “new normal” or are they merely PC buzzwords? Have Anzaldúa’s concepts of mestizaje fully infiltrated our 21st Century personal, social, and political consciousness or her concepts merely tolerated but not truly embraced?

Chocholichex Round Table: Building Writing Communities Beyond Academia/MFA Programs Through Workshops and Community-Based Activities
Speakers: Rodney Gomez, Celina Gomez, Priscilla Celina Suarez, Cesar L. De Leon
Location: Partagas

While MFA programs offer supportive networks for writers, it is equally important to extend this opportunity into spaces beyond academia in order to foster and grow a diverse writing culture. Members of the Chocholichex Writing Collective will lead a roundtable discussion on how to build and strengthen local writing circles through workshops, writing retreats, and other activities to help writers hone their craft as well as engage with their community.

Mixing Business with Pleasure: Tending the Practical Side of the Writer’s Life While Staying True to the Muse
Speakers: Nan Cuba, Mo Saidi, Jay Brandon, Alexandra van de Kamp (M)
Location: Bolivar A

As working writers how do we cultivate truly productive time to write while managing the practical element of our craft? A group of accomplished authors will explore the tug-of-war between the realities of being a writer: submitting grants, applying to residencies, sending out work, finding an agent, and staying true to that fickle muse.

A Celebratory Reading with Gemini Ink’s 2016-17 Poetry Mentor and Mentees
Speakers: Barbara Ras, Lisbeth White, Zoe Fay-Stindt
Location: Bolivar B

Close out your day with some fantastic poetry from award-winning poet Barbara Ras and her two poetry mentees, Zoë Fay-Stindt and Lisbeth White. Celebrate the fruits of the 2016-2017 Gemini Ink mentor/mentee program during this lively reading.


Interactive Writing, or Why Are Video Games Like Theater?
Speakers: Rick Stemm, Stevan Zivadinovic
Location: Monte Cristo

In order to keep up with an increasingly digital, multimedia age, writing must continue to evolve while still integrating traditional writing forms such as drama. This panel explores writing in all its interactive, non-linear, non-traditional forms, including video games with branching stories, print and digital comics, audience-interactive performance art, and more. We will explore the relationship between video games and theater--how they inform one another and what they can learn from each other.

San Antonio SLAM
MC: Rooster Martínez
Location: La Habana

Witness two rounds of five spoken word artists face-off in this fun, informal slam emceed by Christopher “Rooster” Martínez, co-founder of The Blah Poetry Spot. Judges will be selected from the audience, so cheer for your favorites as the poets go head-to-head. Prizes range from a bag of PhiloÇoffee coffee to a Viva TacoLand t-shirt, and more.

For Whom the Bell Tolls: Sounding the Alarm
Speakers: Miryam Bujanda, Gerald Poyo
Location: Partagas

What is the role of the writer in this new century? Is writing what one observes enough? Or do we voice concern? Do we sound the alarm, increase awareness to other times in world history, national history, local history when certain groups were persecuted? Join us for an interactive discussion on the role of writers in tumultuous times, learning from previous economic and political history as current markers as we sound the alarm.

Sensational Reading: The Relationship between Accessibility and Storytelling
Speaker: Vania Vasquez, Robert Cavazos, Zane Evans, and Ralph Tamez
Location: Bolivar B

What happens when a major disconnect occurs between a writer’s work and its readers? How much of the writer/reader relationship rests on the assumption that all readers share similar experiences to the author? This panel explores the relationship between accessibility and storytelling. Pairing original research with data on the science of storytelling, this panel will highlight the implications of writing from an ablest perspective and the advantages of making writing more inclusive.



Sunday Panels


Articulating the Role of Women in the Defense of the United States
Speakers: Theresa Handrahan, Terri Harmon, Nikketa Burgess, Sarah Colby (M)
Location: La Habana

Women perceive conflict differently than men. While men focus on hard facts and causation, women reflect on emotions and devastating consequences. Where and how do women serve in defense of their country? How do we, as women who write the military experience, articulate our roles with each other and with our wider community? What insights do we bring to a country weary of war?


Bearing Witness: Poem as Evidence
Speakers: Heather Robinson Hernandez
Location: Monte Cristo

Because a poet’s imagination, language, and consciousness are altered when injustice or catastrophic events occur in their community, some poets strive to bear witness on the page. Poetry of witness makes communal trauma immediate and calls on the reader to bear witness, too. In this manner, a poem becomes documented evidence or truth. Workshop participants will conduct close-readings of Carolyn Forché and Fady Joudah’s poetry and, through guided writing prompts, will bear witness to events in their own communities.


Merging Profession and Passion: Unifying the Teacher/Writer Identity
Speakers: Christen Gresham Barron, Leah Beth Johnston
Location: La Habana

In Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, Sharon Louden states that “the power of creativity does not just lie in an artist’s work, but also in how...she continues to create regardless of the obstacles life places in the way.”  Though often considered a hindrance to writers, teaching can serve as a creative act, and writing itself can cultivate empathy toward students. This panel seeks to challenge the teacher/writer identity and to reimagine obstacles as creative material.

Truth To Power: Writers Respond To The Rhetoric Of Hate And Fear
Speakers: Glover Davis, Martín Espada, William Pitt Root, Carmen Tafolla, Pamela Uschuk
Location: Monte Cristo

San Antonio writers Rosemary Catacalos, Glover Davis, and Carmen Tafolla join Martin Espada and editors Bill Root and Pam Uschuk to discuss and read work from the powerful anthology: Truth to Power: Writers Respond To The Rhetoric of Hate and Fear, 2017, which continues to be a literary force addressing racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, bullying, political lies, and assaults on the natural world. They will show a YouTube video Rita Dove made of her reading her own poems from the anthology. The anthology donates all profits to the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Standing Rock Sioux Water Protectors and Friends Of The Earth.


The Writer’s Journey: An Agent and Four Authors
Speakers: Debra Monroe, Ann Colette, James Dennis, J.R. Helton, Patrick Stockwell (M)
Location: La Habana

Join an agent and four writers as they explore the unpredictable journeys writers take. There is not one formula for success; sometimes pure persistence in the midst of your creative trajectory will take you the farthest. No two writers take the same path; share in the various stories of these writers' journeys.

Redefining & Utilizing Writing Spaces in Our Century (Voces Cósmicas)
Speakers: Fernando Esteban Flores (M), Jacinto Jesús Cardona, Liz Vera, Carlos Loera, Rafael Castillo, Stephanie Velásquez, Suzanne Green
Location: Monte Cristo

In the age of social media, writers need to rethink the concept of a writing space as more than just a page. Today every online space, Twitter feed, comment box, or wall is a blank page waiting for our creative voices. For our writing to make a lasting impact on our world, writers must learn to navigate the myriad of writing spaces available today. Voces Cósmicas, a writers group from San Antonio, will lead this panel.


The Digital Word: Exploring the Merger of Creative Writing and Advanced Technologies
Speakers: David Hale, Gerard Robledo
Location: Monte Cristo

In an age of unparalleled innovation, the advent of new technologies in multiple scientific fields has become more than material for creative inspiration--they’ve produced tools for creative experimentation and augmentation of the written form. This panel will explore the integration of writing with burgeoning scientific advances in digitally based writing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality; and how these technologies can be used to disseminate writings rooted in political discourse to a tech-driven society.

Telling Our Story Our Way
Speakers: Antoinette Winstead, DL Grant, Chris Pittard, Frederick Williams
Location: Trinidad

In the face of Black Lives Matters, the movement behind Black Panther, and the struggle for visibility of Black creatives, this panel will discuss why it is more important than ever for Black writers to be at the forefront of telling their own story.

Writing as Liberative Praxis: A Latina Narrative
Speakers: Yvette Chairez, Jessica Padilla Acosta,Cyndi Piña, Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, Dr. Alicia Reyes-Barriéntez
Location: Partagas

Mujerista theologian, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, coined the idea of lo cotidiano as an imperative concept toward understanding the liberation of the oppressed and the subjugated, more importantly, the liberation of the Latina. Using lo cotidiano, this panel will discuss the implications and significance of writing as a liberative praxis for the everyday Latina.

Healing Through the Written Word: No Tragedy Goes Unnoticed by the Poet
Speakers: Edward Vidaurre, Octavio Quintanilla, Robin Carstensen, Linda Romero
Location: Bolivar A

As poets, how do we take on the hard work of healing when tragedy strikes? How do we revisit trauma and write about it? In this panel, four poets talk about the importance of healing through language when we encounter or revisit personal, communal, or historical trauma. Panelists will invite discussion on how to cultivate healing spaces through writing, publication, editorial work, teaching, workshops, readings, and community partnerships.

OUT LOUD! Speak Your Writing to Life
Speaker: David Pérez
Location: Bolivar B

This fun-filled workshop by Taos author and actor David Pérez uses improvisation to launch our writing to new heights, hone the writing process, and enliven our words for audiences. Discover what words can do when the body and voice are fully engaged. What happens if we speak our writing with laughter? Or whispering? Or running in place? Bring a short, one-minute piece to read. Handouts will be provided. All genres and levels welcome!


Ekphrasis Through a Latinx Lens
Speakers: Seres Magana, Edward Vidaurre, Julieta Corpus, Rodney Gomez, Daniel Garcia Ordaz
Location: La Habana

As a tool of poetic production, ekphrasis can be a powerful way to expand upon, reimagine, or express allegiance with another work of art. In this panel, five Latinx poets from the Rio Grande Valley will perform ekphrastic poems influenced by enduring works of art. Panelists will discuss how the art influences both their creative production and their social and political consciousness. As part of the panel, the artwork will be on display.

Black Writers Behind the Screen in the New Century
Speakers: Antoinette Winstead, Mark Cunningham
Location: Monte Cristo

In this new century, Black artists are relishing in a New Black Renaissance. Atlanta, Insecure, Black Panther and Get Out are all examples of shows and films that are revolutionizing the representation of Black people. Film professors and screen writers Antoinette Winstead and Mark Cunningham will discuss the state of Black art in film and television and how screenwriters can continue to create bold content at a time when diverse voices are more creative than ever.

On Place, Displacements and Replacements: Readings and Discussion by Four Poets
Speakers: Emmy Pérez, Octavio Quintanilla, Natalia Treviño, Wendy Barker
Location: Trinidad

What is the significance of geographic location for these poets? What effect has moving geographically, linguistically, and culturally had on their writing and sense of self? What sorts of displacements have they experienced and how have those dislocations become subjects for poems? Have these writers ever found a sense of coming home to a particular place? Panelists will share their work while discussing these questions. If time allows, panelists will invite questions and comments from the audience.

In the Classroom Down the Hall: The Ins and Outs and In-Betweens of Teaching Writing in an Afterschool Setting
Speakers: Sarah Colby, Laura Healy (M), Clint Taylor
Location: Partagas

Igniting children’s creative spark is the best way to create a better, kinder future, but how do you inspire kids who are tired after a long day of learning? Three seasoned teachers from Gemini Ink’s Writers in Communities program offer stories from their time at Windcrest Elementary. They will share their insights on the afterschool environment and overcoming its challenges. This is an interactive presentation with opportunities to listen, write, and get out of your chair.

Busy-ness and Writing: Finding Time to Create in Our Distracted Culture
Speakers: Cynthia Drake, Jen Hamilton, Tina Karagulian, Viktoria Valenzuela
Location: Bolivar B

In our distracted culture, creating art is subversive. With chores to do, friends and family to support, money to be made, phone notifications to check, just being in the world may drain our creativity as writers. This panel will cover everything from the Pomodoro Method to finding accountability partners to help us get our writing done. You’ll leave this discussion ready to kick distractions to the curb and focus on your writing.


Closing Remarks: “The 21st Century: Why We Must Keep Writing It”
Speaker: Dr. Octavio Quintanilla, 2018-2020 San Antonio Poet Laureate
Location: Monte Cristo

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