The Writer’s Desk features the desks and writing practices of Gemini Ink faculty, visiting authors, teaching artists, volunteers, students, interns, staff, partners and more.  Receive new posts in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter at

Join Arrie Porter on Mondays, February 12 & 19, 2024, 6:30-8:30pm CST, Hybrid (in-person at Gemini Ink and online via Zoom), for her workshop: Unexplored Greats: A Study of Lesser Known African American Authors. In this class, participants will explore the narrative and lyrical license, devices, and history of black writers including Henry Dumas, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, Christopher Gilbert, Yusef Komunyakaa, and others, while learning to craft their own dynamic works in poetry and fiction.

  • What are the books or movies that you can watch and read over and over again? I’m a big huge Jesmyn Ward fan. I was introduced to her by a friend at the beauty salon. The first book I read by Ward is Sing Unburied Sing. The first 2 or three pages pulled me in. I went home ordered the book and read it in a couple days. There are many movies I love, but Gladiator with Russell Crowe (Maximus Decimus Meridius), Claudine, Steel Magnolias, and Soul Food are some of my favorites.
  • Has your preferred place to write changed over the years? I can’t say I have a preferred writing place. I write whenever I feel it. I have a laptop at my bedside. Sometimes it’s sitting in bed.  Sometimes I feel it when I’m outside. I always have a journal with me.
  • Is there anything that you’ve been listening to lately—an interesting podcast, a song list, or album? May be hard to believe but I haven’t gotten hooked on a podcast yet. Although Rachel Maddow on MSNBC has a couple that have piqued my interest. I’m a fan of all types of music. Gospel music is a favorite—Hezekiah Walker, Kirk Franklin, Le’Andria Johnson. Old school like The Funkadelics, Traffic-Low Spark of High-heeled-Boys, Marvin Gaye, and Earth Wind & Fire take me back, puts me in a great space. Quite a musical dichotomy, right? I find something to love about it all.
  • What theme or symbol often emerges in your work? I write about flawed people, people with issues.
  • Why are you drawn to this theme/symbol? Maybe because I am, flawed I mean. We all are. Similar to fictionalized characters, we people handle our flaws in various ways, sometimes hide them, sometimes can’t. We are impacted accordingly.
  • Who are your heroes in real life? What do you admire most about them? My mother and my paternal grandfather are my real-life heroes. My mother was the kindest, strongest, and most beautiful woman you could meet. But you’d never want to make her angry. The easiest way to do so was to in any way hurt one of her children. My grandfather was uneducated but walked more than 20 miles roundtrip to work each day until he could buy a car. He retired—a Civil Servant, purchased several parcels of land, raised a family. I guess he was my first storyteller, told me about his life as a young boy growing up in Texas. He had many interesting adventures, lived through them. Was a beekeeper, robbed them of their honey; sent me to college in Denver with a container of honey that was much more than one gallon. I don’t know how much it was, but it lasted the entire 4 years. They are who kept and keep me moving, on difficult days.
  • What is your secret talent? Does it ever pop up in your writing? My secret (and maybe not so secret) talent is singing/music. And yes, sometimes I add singing to a poem or include characters who sing in choirs, visit juke joints, slow dance. I’m drawn to music and so are my characters. Besides, writing is its own rhythm!
  • Do you like things to be carefully planned out or do you prefer to just go with the flow? Does this also apply to how you lay out a story?
    In life, I do both, depends on the project. Happens with my writing too. I typically have an idea in mind that writes itself for a while. The characters do a lot of talking, a lot of acting up. If they slow down or stop, I have to understand why. I may do some outlining to get them talking again and to ensure the story works.
  • Who are your favorite writers? And who is your favorite hero/heroine in fiction? I have several, including poets. They are Jesmyn Ward, Octavia Butler, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Ocean Vuong, and Shakespeare. Lauren, in Butler’s Parable of the Sower is my favorite heroine. She’s smart, strong, resilient, and vulnerable.
  • Does good writing result from best practices, magic, or a bit of both? Both. The magic begins with an idea and continues as you weave a tapestry of words together to create a tale others might want to read. However, to complete a project, you must have goals and a routine you follow to get the work done. Even if you fall off, you must get back at it if you want to complete a book! I believe Walter Moseley said he found writing easy. Of course, he does, he’s Walter Moseley. I haven’t gotten there yet. Don’t know if I ever will, maybe not easy but easier.
  • What is your next project? I’m working on a book of poetry focused on women. We are multi-faceted creatures who deal with multitudes each day. I want to address the ways we do what we do, how we overcome and sometimes not. Also, I hope to begin work on the second book of fiction in my “Car Lot” series.

Arrie Porter is a poet and fiction writer with publications in The Winward Review, Voices de la LunaRiverSedgeThe Thing Itself, and other noteworthy periodicals. She has reviewed books of fiction for Angelo State University and serves as a Gemini Ink Teaching Artist. She is the former host of the Coffee Loft Open Mic in Atlanta Georgia, and performs at various open mics. She is the creator of “Voices,” a DreamWeek San Antonio event, and creator and publisher of Nubian Notes, a magazine now maintained as a special collection at the John Peace Library, Institute of Texas Cultures. Her interviews and articles have appeared in the San Antonio Report and the San Antonio Express-News. Arrie has developed commentaries for Texas Public Radio, including The George Floyd Protests in the Pandemic and Juneteenth–It’s Complicated. She oversees the Poetry Ministry at Agape Christian Church and holds a MA/MFA degree in Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice. Arrie is a Professor of English at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Anisa Onofre

Author Anisa Onofre

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