One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is to curl up in bed with a book. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry — I devour them all. I think that in my entire life I have given up on only one book. Can’t remember what it was, but it must have been terminally boring. Even so, I felt mildly guilty for abandoning it in midcourse. For us readers and literature lovers, March and April bear special gifts: visits by important authors, readings, book signings, performances and an entire month devoted to poetry.
To begin with, former San Antonian Sandra Cisneros, who now lives in Mexico, will be back in town as a guest of our city’s premier literary organization, Gemini Ink. On March 26th, she will give a free reading at Palo Alto College, and on the 28th she will appear as the guest of honor and speaker at the 2016 Autograph Series Reading & Luncheon, a fundraiser for the organization. Famous as she is, Cisneros is not the only interesting personality on Gemini Ink’s schedule. March 2, 3 and 5, author and performer Uroyan Noel, a professor at New York University, will give a talk, sign books and teach a class called Performalist Poetics, which, from what I gathered, will cover genres of performance poetry, from rap to slam. I intend to be there.
Another thing that attracted my attention is Gemini Ink’s new year-long poetry course titled Across the Seasons: Cultivating Deep Listening to the Poetic Voice, taught by Cyra Dumitru. Wow! As far as I know, there hasn’t been a course like this in years. It’s too late to sign up for it now, but all of you budding and seasoned poets take note: If there’s enough interest, they may bring it back next year. (www.geminiink.org).
April is a whole other story. Nationally recognized as Poetry Month, it’s celebrated all over San Antonio in dozens of readings, panel discussions, competitions, poetry-cum-music happenings, etc. Last year some 50 venues hosted more than 100 poets. Few specifics were available at press time, but you’ll be able to get the calendar of events at libraries and at www.npmsa.com. Two fun projects that happen every year: Poetry on the Move (poems displayed on VIA buses) and Slam the Town on April 1, when everyone is invited to send, email, hand out or otherwise distribute at least one poem to as many people as possible.
A major April event is the San Antonio Book Festival, which is looking very promising this year (www.saplf.org/festival). More than 80 authors are expected to come to our neck of the woods — and this fest does not last a month. Almost everything happens in a single day, April 2, with a few ticketed lunches planned for April 1. So check the schedule and pick what interests you the most. You can’t get to everything.
There’s no space here to mention a lot of names, but quite a few of the invited writers made “Best of 2015” lists, won awards or made a splash on the national scene. Some of the splash-makers are from around here, including David Liss, Stephen Harrigan, Naomi Shihab Nye, Austin Kleon, Eileen Curtright, Xavier Garza, H.W. Brands and others. If all this literary talk leaves you too intellectually stimulated, check out these two humorous events for sheer entertainment — Pitchapaloosa (writers pitch book projects at breakneck speed; one wins) and the Literary Death Match (similar in format but contestants perform and strive to be funny while reading excerpts from their works.)
I have a suggestion for the organizers: Please spread the fun over two days next year!
By Jasmina Wellinghoff