To visit Gemini Ink
by Stephanie Barton
Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center in San Antonio, Texas, provides book lovers the chance to immerse themselves in the study and creation of literature. Many programs are collaborations with other arts organizations, such as art museums and theater groups, and the center also reaches out to the community by providing literary opportunities for schoolchildren, seniors and special-needs groups.
Gemini Ink became a literary organization in 1996. Before its formal incorporation, however, the spirit of Gemini Ink resided in the concept of Dramatic Reader’s Theater. Two friends developed dramatic presentations of literary works, first at a local bookstore and later in other venues around the city. The name of the reader’s theater series reflected the women’s twin-like love of literature: the Gemini Series. Soon after, the founders began teaching writing classes. When the organization was incorporated a year later, the name was changed to Gemini Ink. The popular presentations of the Dramatic Reader’s Theater continue today.
Dramatic Reader’s Theater is unlike any other art exhibit or performance event. Best described as “acting in a chair,” the free performances are scripted pieces that combine visual arts and the written word. The Gemini Ink executive director selects, edits and compiles the scripts of published poems, stories, and play excerpts. The staff director produces the presentations, which are scored by professional musicians. Shows often include slide shows of paintings that correspond to the literary dramatizations.
The Spring 2002 season offers four Dramatic Reader’s Theater productions. The first presentation in February celebrates African-American culture in the program, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” From Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison to Zora Neale Hurston and Maya Angelou, the show pays homage to the literary contributions of African-American writers. The second presentation in March, “Writers on Writing,” illustrates how scribes from Shakespeare to Pablo Neruda have characterized the writing process, how they transform ideas in robust works of art. The remaining presentations coordinate literature with the photographs of Aleksandr Rodchenko and the paintings of Ray Smith.
Educational programs at Gemini Ink directly reflect its mission and goals. University Without Walls courses allow students to work intimately with literary illuminati. The instructors are novelists, poets, journalists, memoirists, screenwriters and playwrights who work closely with students, giving detailed feedback and guidance. Students have described the experience as exhilarating.
During Spring 2002, students can enroll in a master class with Tim O’Brien, novelist and a National Book Award winner, or drive to the Hill Country for a workshop with Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer prize-winning poet, essayist and novelist. Author and poet Naomi Shihab Nye will explore the qualities of the paragraph, and senior vice-president at the San Antonio Express-News, Robert Rivard, will teach journalism. The semester will offer 19 classes, including a literary tour of San Antonio and a lecture series. A master-level, distance-learning Mentor Program gives advanced writers the opportunity to work with practicing professionals. Writers also gain feedback at a free writing lab each month, and playwrights can join a play marathon during which excerpts of their work will be read before an audience and theater experts will return written comments. A two-week national writer’s conference is offered each July.
Writers in Communities programs have established Gemini Ink’s presence in the general San Antonio community. These free projects send writers to work with diverse groups to promote creativity, literary skills, and literacy. Schoolchildren work with published writers to encourage their creative skills, while others who have suffered from sexual abuse gain confidence and self-worth through playful poetry workshops. Seniors distill their memories into anthologies with the help of professional writers. Women with AIDS learn to express their feelings about living with a terminal disease. And in a new program at a juvenile probation center, a writer and an illustrator work with teen fathers to craft children’s books to distribute to other teen parents. This program combats illiteracy and encourages teen parents to read to their children. The young fathers at the correctional facility learn to invest in their own creativity and their community.
Gemini Ink is the only literary center in south Texas, and its board and staff promote San Antonio and Texas as a hub for literature. The center’s recent move to the downtown arts district of Southtown underscores its presence in the arts community. An abandoned warehouse was transformed into a colorful and innovative space, one that ignites the creativity of Gemini Ink students and faculty.
Gemini Ink programs and events are varied, of high quality, and open to anyone who celebrates ideas, books, and writing.
Stephanie Barton is the Director of Public Relations for Gemini Ink. She
also writes content for technology and travel Web sites and documents
software products. For more information about Gemini Ink and its programs,
please contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-734-WORD(9673).