February 17, 2022

Join us in welcoming Mandy Lynn Lara! Mandy Lynn is our new Public Class Coordinator.  She is a Poet and Theatre Artist with Louisiana roots transplanted and grown in San Antonio, TX. She is co-founder of Raise the Whisper, a poetry and arts group focused on healing the effects of sexual trauma. She is a member of the PuroSlam poetry team representing San Antonio in national competitions from 2018 – to the present. Her recent work has been featured in La Prensa Texas and TPR’s Worth Repeating.

What part of being the new Class Coordinator are you most excited about?

I am excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work building diverse public programming that explores new genres and gives more people access to craft tools that bring stories to life. I am excited about some of Gemini Ink’s upcoming spring 2022 workshops focused on screenwriting, dialogue writing, and the migrant experience. Also, anything that explores combining the arts; lyric writing, playwriting, performance poetry, and ekphrasis. Time to get the ball rolling!

Also, I really enjoy making new friends and expanding my network of artists.

What books are on your nightstand?

I am a sucker for a stack of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Short stories with clear morals give me reprieve from my own mind.

How do you start to write something new?

Writing something new always starts with an explosion of thoughts that spill onto envelopes, receipts, Samsung notes, an old journal, my arms. Find me a blank space to write and I will take it! Editing is my way of returning to clean up the mess I’ve made. On days when my words don’t find me, I seek inspiration by reading old writing or grabbing a neglected book from my shelf.

What is your biggest inspiration when writing?

I am an avid observer of humanity. Human interaction – mine, yours, or strangers on the streets – inspire me to write. I study the relationship between words and body language, eavesdropping to find interesting new themes. This process leads to some intense self-reflection.

What piece of writing have you composed that you are most proud of?

I am proud of everything I’ve written. Sometimes I have to write it, walk away, and re-read later to appreciate it, though!

“Fatherless Daughter” is the poem I enjoy sharing the most. It is the story of a little girl standing in San Antonio’s historic Market Square surrounded by the Fiesta colors of spring and accordion music. She is not connected to her father but is searching for pieces of him in this space. She finds herself surrounded by strangers who remind her that she is not a fatherless daughter. I create a new connection with a stranger each time I share it. It’s also the first performance poem I’ve ever fully memorized before writing down.

What part of Gemini Ink’s mission resonates with you the most?

Gemini Ink’s mission is to bring stories to life. I had a story sitting in my soul for years before I had the space to tell it. As a Teaching Artist with Gemini Ink I have already helped elementary students, cancer survivors, youth empowerment programs, incarceration prevention programs, and community members bring their stories to life. There are few things more satisfying than witnessing the relief, joy, and pain of a human sharing their story. This new role will increase the safe space.

Do you have a website, social media, or any other links to recent writing you’d like to share with us?

We all have a work in progress, don’t we? Learning to promote my writing and performance is mine. Follow me on IG @mandylynnlara for snippets of my poetry and fun photographs. You can check out my latest storytelling adventure with TPR’s Worth Repeating here:

And just for fun…
Who are your favorite music artists?

Los Nahuatlatos, Mex Step, Heartless the Monster, and the legendary Flaco and Santiago Jiménez, Jr. are among my absolute favorite musical artists. All from right here en el corazón de San Antonio.

What are your favorite binge-watching series’?

My brain works a lot of overtime and I usually don’t sit still long enough to binge-watch anything, unless it’s a documentary or true crime. This type of programming keeps my brain engaged. I have watched every episode of I AM A KILLER on Netflix. Documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust pique my interest.

If I’m feeling lighthearted, I usually go with The Golden Girls, Sanford & Sons, or All in the Family. Oh yeah, I can nerd out on Wheel of Fortune any day of the week because words are fun.

Tell us something that will surprise us!

I am a Healthcare Risk Manager by trade, investigating adverse events in inpatient care. I’ve investigated things like medication errors, unanticipated deaths, allegations of abuse, and equipment failures that cause patient harm. In 2018, I wrapped up 20 years of medical service, withdrew my retirement, and decided to focus on writing. What a wild ride! I am now a Public Class Coordinator, Performance Poet, Creative Writing Instructor, and teach Theatre Arts to rowdy middle school students. I live a charmed life!

Anisa Onofre

Author Anisa Onofre

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