Conference Panels


Saturday Panels



Postcards from the Edge
Speakers: Judy Jensen, Tina Posner, Bree Rolfe
Location: Monte Cristo B

Can poets be considered “serious” while disengaged from the hustle for college-level jobs, literary presses, grants, and prizes? As poets working outside of public recognition and professional advancement, our creative lives are highly personalized and meaningful. We write poems that we want to read and share poems that we want to teach, edit, perform, or letterpress print. Living on the poetry edge, our communities are vital so we’d like to enlarge the conversation.


Taking Up Space: Teatro in the Classroom
Speakers: Lilith Tijerina, Sarah Tijerina, Joyous Windrider Jiménez, Clint Taylor
Location: Bolivar C

Panelists will share their insights and experience in using teatro (devised theatre) to empower young community members to collaboratively and powerfully explore their voice and place in the community.




All the Voices In the Room: Community Based Organizing, Outreach, and Empowerment Through Literary Events and Indie Publishing
Speakers: Robin Carstensen, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Daniel García Ordaz, Tom Murphy, Edward Vidaurre
Location: Monte Cristo B

Participants will discuss the power of the words in their unique geographies, how we, as writers, create connections between our writing lives as teachers, publishers, and conference organizers, and the greater community. We will also discuss the challenges of providing opportunities for empowerment through writing such as literary events and indy publishing. All five panelists will share their experience with activism and community cultural arts work.




Unexpected Storytelling: A Conversation with Three Texas Authors
Speakers: Dr. Bonnie Lyons, Bonnie Ilza Cisneros, Anel Flores, Cary Clack
Location: Monte Cristo B

Join a panel of award-winning prose writers as they discuss the varied and highly original narratives and modes of reporting that they have created in their novels, memoirs, newspaper columns, and more to investigate the social, political, and personal tensions they have experienced in connection to their place in Texas. Learn about the stories these writers decided they needed to tell, often bending genres and expectations in the process.

The Making of a Border Legend: Jacinto Treviño
Speakers: Juan Tejeda, Daniel García Ordaz
Location: Bolivar C

The Rio Grande Valley Borderlands of 1910 was a hotbed for legends such as Jacinto Treviño. Who was Jacinto Treviño? How does his border ballad (“El Corrido de Jacinto Treviño”) match the true-life incidents that see him lauded by some and hated by others? A look at the border hero/villain and his legacy, including El Colegio Jacinto Treviño and the corrido.




La geografía de las palabras
Speakers: Rebecca Bowman, Javier Tinajero, & Octavio Quintanilla
Location: Romeo & Juliet

¿Sobre qué escribimos cuando escribimos sobre un lugar? ¿Cómo nos ayuda la escritura a redescubrir los lugares que creemos que hemos abandonado o que creemos nos han abandonado? Los participantes en este panel leerán su trabajo creativo y discutirán sobre cómo un lugar a menudo complica la forma en que negociamos la memoria, el oficio de escribir, y también el anhelo de encontrarse uno mismo.


Geolocation as Form: The Function of Place in Digital Writing
Speakers: David Hale, Andrew Hale
Location: Monte Cristo A

Thanks to the internet we are everywhere and nowhere at once. Place has become ephemeral in writing a mental landscape. This panel explores how technology can ground writing with pinpoint accuracy. We will examine how algorithms, like those used by Google Maps, can help you navigate stanzas and paragraphs. In essence, this panel will explore how technology can form-fit writing to a specific location through the use of tracking algorithms and virtual reality.


Defining and Redefining: Literary Organizations as Place
Alexandra van de Kamp, Holly Lyn Walrath and Cassandra Rose Clarke
Location: Monte Cristo B

Join three literary arts administrators, who are also working writers, as they take a deep dive into what a literary community is and can be in this 24/7 world. How can literary organizations answer the needs of the serious writer when contending with sprawling cities, economic disparity, cyberspace and more? Do contemporary literary organizations need to re-imagine what their community is? How are these leaders working with their staff and community to create the most ideal places in which writers can thrive?


The Scene of the Crime: Setting in Crime Fiction
Speakers: Eusebio Diaz, Rod Davis
Location: Bolivar A

Chandler and Mosley in Los Angeles. Burke in Louisiana. Highsmith in Europe. When done right, setting is not just the crime scene, it plays an integral role in the story, often acting as its own character. Through its heightened physical context, setting divulges more than a “sense of place.” It allows the reader a deeper understanding of not just who is doing what to whom, but also how, and why. It is the ultimate informant.


From Shame to Belonging
Speakers: Yvette DeChavez, Laurie Filipelli, Alyssa Harad, Chaitali Sen
Location: Bolivar C

Writers often bear witness from the margins, but the shame of being cast out of a community, or stuck between worlds, can threaten our identity, our work, our health, and our power to resist injustice. In this panel, we discuss how writing helps us foster a sense of belonging and reclaim spaces from the classroom to the bookshelf to the State Capitol.




What’s My Place in All of This?
Speakers: Analicia Sotelo, Ira Sukrungruang, Andre Dubus III, Pablo Miguel  Martinez, Camille Acker
Location: Romeo & Juliet

All of this year’s featured authors come together to discuss the difficulties that a writer experiences when learning how to locate their literary voice within local, regional, national, and global conversations. How does a writer celebrate the textures of the local while connecting to the international? The discussion will be moderated by Gemini Ink’s Executive Artistic Director, Alexandra van de Kamp.




Nature Writing in the Anthropocene
Speakers: Daniel García Ordaz, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Wendy Barker, Katherine Hoerth
Location: Romeo & Juliet

What place does nature writing have in our contemporary literary conversation? As our state rapidly becomes more urbanized, many poets still turn to nature for inspiration. Four poets will read their nature and environmental writing and discuss the importance of the natural world on their works. This reading will showcase the diversity of voices within the environmental writing community in Texas.


Beyond the Wall: Creative Writing and Transformative Justice
Speakers: Mel Webb, Susannah Bannon, Darwin Hamilton, Dwight Sullivan, Jessica Wright
Location: Monte Cristo A

America has 4% of the world’s population but over 20% of the world’s prison population. While the US relies on the criminal legal system to respond to harms in our communities, the carceral system compounds rather than redresses injustice. What negotiations of place are required to survive prison? How might writing play a part in those negotiations? How, through storytelling and other forms of writing, might we imagine and nurture just and peaceful communities that transform harm?


“To Pull the Metal Splinter from my Palm”: Negotiating the Shared Pains of Writing and Parenting
Speakers: Natalia Treviño, Joshua Robbins, Gerard Robledo
Location: Monte Cristo B

This panel will explore how we, as writers, negotiate the responsibilities of being a parent, and how parenting feeds the creative work so that we can parent in a way that helps teach our children to negotiate our volatile world. Each panelist will examine these topics through their own lenses of gender, race, culture, colorism, poetry, and marital status.


I’m Not From Here: Outsiders on Place and Story
Speakers: Jack Kaulfus, Alejandro Puyana, Ramona Reeves, Ire’ne Lara Silva
Location: Bolivar A

Dorothy Allison says place is not only physical but is also established by how characters react to it. Panelists will discuss the innate tension between “outsiders” and place, as well as layering place and story through voices that are marginalized because of class, disability, queerness, ethnicity, and more.

Parabola: A Conversation About Writing and Community
Speakers: Patrick Stockwell, Octavio Quintanilla, Kelley V. Phillips, Larissa Hernandez, Mobi Warren
Location: Bolivar C

In anticipation of the new community reading series, Parabola, produced by Gemini Ink and the San Antonio River Foundation, a group of authors and activists comes together to discuss the power and importance of experiencing art in a natural setting. How do established writers foster a sustained sense of community to attract newer members of the tribe? In what ways do we connect with like-minded community partners to achieve these goals? A Q&A will follow.

Sunday Panels



Teen Writers from the Resaca: The Importance and Ease of Starting a Youth Writing Club
Speakers: Mark Esperanza, Melanie Hernandez, Emily Raquel Garcia, Anthony Ripp, Jasmin Garcia, Jonathan Rodriguez, Julieta Corpus
Location: Monte Cristo A

San Benito Creative Writers Club will discuss the research-based benefits of starting a youth writing club at your local school or community, as well as writing a constitution, recruiting and retaining membership, fundraising, and utilizing local writers. Panelists will share their work and experiences, and how participating in a writing organization has improved their community by the Resaca.


Another Level: Negotiating Landscape
Speakers: Tyler Truman Julian, Alexandra van de Kamp, Vincent Cooper
Location: Monte Cristo B

Landscapes, from mountains in Proulx stories, to farms in Smiley novels, to city neighborhoods in Smith poems, influence the action and characters of a narrative until it becomes a character, plot device, an element of conflict itself. This panel will look at the role of landscape in developing story, how place moves a story beyond mere reportage of fact, and how vivid landscapes can push your writing to deeper level.


Writing the Apocalyptic
Speakers: Cynthia Spielman, Marisol Cortez, Christine Drennon, Cathryn Merla-Watson
Location: Bolivar C

The trauma of displacement in San Antonio inner-city neighborhoods is apocalyptic. As with any apocalypse, there is social revelation and action: the destruction of neighborhoods unearths and lays bare sediments of economic, sociological, and historical meanings that contribute to inequality within this city’s human geography. This apocalypse invites social critique, reflection, dialogue, and activism. This panel brings together multidisciplinary perspectives examining how writers and advocates affect change.




Haunted Environments & Hidden Stories: The Role of Identity in Excavating Memory & Negotiating Place
Speakers: Renee Christopher, Leanna Petronella, Ayokunle Falomo, Matty Layne Glasgow, Esteban Rodriguez
Location: Monte Cristo A

For writers of marginalized identities, environment can serve as both a site of and an escape from trauma. How can we, as writers, honor the places that made us & liberate ourselves from the oppression & trauma that held us there? In this panel, we explore how queer worldmaking, magical realism, & environmental writing can excavate stories of place, paying close attention to the construction & suppression of identity.


A Place at the Table: Writing and Belonging
Speakers: Brittani Sonnenberg, Esther Mizrachi, Kebana Frost

Location: Monte Cristo BMany of us write to find a sense of belonging: to locate ourselves and trace our stories. In sharing our writing, we join a feast of voices and ideas. But how do we claim a place at the proverbial table? We will discuss writing groups and other support systems, the allure and terror of submitting and publishing, and writing as a way of “placing” ourselves at the heart of our deepest longings.


Generating Speculative Places
Speakers: Holly Lyn Walrath, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Saba Razvi, Stina Leicht
Location: Bolivar C

A panel of women speculative writers discuss the importance of place in magical realism, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. How does place become a character when the world is fantastical? What is worldbuilding and what are the different approaches to creating a unique setting for genre works?




High Noon: More than Coming-of-Age
Speakers: Dr. Jennifer Bartlett, Kathleen Creedon, Theresa Ho
Location: Monte Cristo A

Everything about making High Noon — marketing, editing, design — was about cultivating a place for stories about moments when future confronts the past and celebrating the difference in our stories. But creating such a community raises important conversations about what it means to “have diversity,” such as representing people of color and people in the LGBTQ+ community.


Writing in the RGV: Identity and Community Attainment
Speakers: Eric Shah, María L. M. Garcia, Ileana Garcia-Spitz, Jo Reyes-Boitel
Location: Monte Cristo B

The Rio Grande Valley is a culturally-vibrant and fluid land that welcomes multi-disciplinary writers from inside and outside of the community. These RGV panelists are early in their craft and already document their lives and experiences in this amazing place. But there are challenges, namely finding a space within the regional arts community and developing their own identity through their writing. Their experiences provide a model for how to support new writers.


The Traveling Writer: Using Travel Destinations and Research to Inform and Market Your Writing
Speakers: Eva Pohler, Tyler Julian
Location: Bolivar C

Eva Pohler will share how she uses her mystery series to pay for trips around the country, determine the setting and focus of a novel, and create marketing opportunities to help new readers to discover her series.




Space at the Literary Table for Songwriter Poets
Speakers: Amalia Ortiz, Andrea VOCAB Sanderson, Polly Anna Rocha
Location: Romeo & Juliet

“Songwriters are not poets. Or songs are not poems, I should say,” wrote Simon Armitage, one of the UK’s most popular poets. University classes analyze pop song lyrics. Yet, Armitage’s statement is an example of the academy’s power to declare what is and is not accepted as literature. The writers on this panel pen poetry that they perform as song. Does it matter if their words are considered literature or not?


Diner Drawings: Finding Your Creative Place
Speakers: Jaimie Peterson, Beau Hulgan
Location: Monte Cristo A

The daughter of a homeless Vietnam Veteran and artist, Jaimie grew up in diners where she learned to write and make art. Her experiences here inspired her to become an artist and art therapist. Today, she aspires to share her story through writing and will explore the importance of finding one’s own creative place. Jaimie found support and mentorship in Beau Hulgan. Beau will lead a group discussion and facilitate questions.


Literary Magazines: Role and Responsibilities
Speakers: Jasmina Wellinghoff, Carol Coffee Reposa, Lisha Garcia, Rod Carlos Rodriguez
Location: Bolivar C

Writers need readers, and literary magazines strive to be that link between writers and the public. For both authors and journals, the concept of place — geographic, emotional, societal — looms large in their interaction. Four panelists representing different perspectives will discuss the roles, needs, expectations, and relationships that shape the publication of a literary journal serving a diverse community.




Writers in Communities
Speakers: Florinda Brown, Carol Gonzales, Erica de la Rosa, David Hale, Christen Gresham
Location: Romeo & Juliet

Writers and educators from Gemini Ink’s own Writers-in-Communities program will be sharing their most memorable moments in negotiating place on the physical plane and in cultivating the special space of the workshop. Writers will share their journeys traveled throughout the city, into unique and diverse classrooms, and along their creative paths to reach the destination of writing workshops.


In/Out of the Academy: Intellectual Labor in the Places and Communities We Inhabit
Speakers: Jessica Wright, Marisol Cortez, Linda McNulty Perez, Jessica Nowlin, Mathura Umachandran, Mel Webb
Location: Monte Cristo A

How do writers trained in academic craft practices do intellectual work that is grounded in the places they inhabit and for the communities they belong to? How do writers working at the juncture of academic, activist, and literary orientations manage the tensions between their different forms of work? This panel explores how “academic” writers reach outside the expectations of the academy to contribute to the building of intellectual and creative communities grounded in the places they inhabit.


Exploring Latino Lives through Time, Place, and Social Condition
Speakers: Miryam Bujanda, Gerald E. Poyo
Location: Monte Cristo B

This conversation examines the formative influences of different historical moments, places, and social realities on Latino identities. Miryam Bujanda’s poetry speaks of her Mexican-American rootedness in El Paso while Gerald E. Poyo’s forthcoming book, A Latino Memoir: Family, Identity and the Common Good (Arte Público Press), discusses a transnational lack of rootedness in search of identity.


Teaching Young Writers: Methods & Mentors — Guides for Exploring Experience and Place
Speakers: Laura Van Prooyen, Andrea VOCAB Sanderson, Amie Charney, Eric Cruz, Stephen Briseño
Location: Bolivar A

As teachers and writers, we have experienced first-hand how close reading and critical inquiry have impacted our own writing and our missions within the larger literary community. We will explore the practice of teaching young writers using mentor texts, structures, journals, popular culture, and music. We will discuss how we can guide students to create authentic work rooted in their own experience through studies and inquiries of craft.




Butter Get Jamming: A Nostalgic and Transcultural View of the PB&J
Speakers: Mark Esperanza, Daniel Lockerbie
Location: Monte Cristo A

Discover how food pedagogy creates an open and friendlier environment in writing settings. Learn how the effects of food as a social and transcultural aspect of humanity with an emphasis on writing. Travel back in time to childhood adventures with a PB&J in-hand. Symbolize your crunchy, smooth, or sweet experiences in life. Explore the written possibilities with a Peanut Butter & Jelly.


Interdisciplinary Queer Writers Who Bend Genres and Genders
Speakers: Jo Reyes-Boitel, Anel Flores, Amber Ortega, Barbie Hurtado, Kate Carroll de Gutes
Location: Monte Cristo B

Writers write. But they also play music, paint, act, sculpt while bending their genres into essays that force inferences, novels and memoirs in verse that hold complex stories, performance pieces, and more. They do all this while bending their genders as butches, genderqueers, and dominant femmes. We’ll look at how additional art forms help enlighten and speed the written word and how writers queering their own gender naturally leads them to queering genres.


Navigating the Literary Landscape of Texas: Publishers’ Perspectives
Speakers: Katherine Hoerth, Kimberly Davis, Edward Vidaurre
Location: Bolivar A

In Texas, the literary landscape has always been one that values independence, innovation, and risk. Today, numerous publishers work together to craft and shape the literary identity of the state. Four publishers from across Texas, from both independent and university presses, will discuss the state of Texas Letters, offer insight about the future of publishing, and give advice for aspiring authors in the Lone Star State.


Dark Parking Lot: Women Writers Negotiating Place in Crime Fiction
Speakers: Patricia Portales, William Glenn
Location: Bolivar C

Writers have long used crime fiction to investigate the heart of a place, its societal ills and cultural complexities. Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles has been well documented, but how did “Queen of Noir” Dorothy Hughes view the same city? How did she capture 1940’s collisions of gender, ethnicity, and identity in Santa Fe? We’ll discuss women writers such as Hughes, Atwood, Tana French, and the hardboiled heroines who navigate places men may never consider.


Make(r) Space Initiative
Times: Saturday (9am-12:30pm), Sunday (1:45-5:15pm)
Location: Gemini Ink Offices

With plenty to explore at this year’s conference, the Gemini Ink team hopes you’ll take advantage of our off-site space (just two blocks away) to unpack ideas, compose, introvert-out, and otherwise enrich your weekend. Though predominantly self-guided, staff will be available to share prompts, questions, and quotes from conference contributors. Feel free to stop by anytime while it’s open. Hope to see you there!

Comments are closed.