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Gemini Ink opens Summer Literary Festival as new director climbs aboard

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Gemini Ink's new director, Sheila Black

God knows why, but there are always an awful lot of people who say they want to be writers, from 17-year-old high school seniors trying to get out of their portables to 70-year-old actual seniors trying to get in line at Luby's. Well, this summer the good nonprofit people at Gemini Ink will let everyone put their money where their mouths are. For somewhere between $40 to $100 anyone yearning for the learning can get into summer writing workshop classes with names like "Body Bliss" and "Lucha Libre Day." Would-be writers can study Pablo Neruda and meet one-on-one with esteemed editors who will look over any unpublished manuscript. Summer class students will get to understand the art of the Young Adult novel while they learn, as one class is described, how to "Lie to Tell the Truth."

There will be big names to rub up against as well, like Editor Thom Ward of BOA Editions and novelist Roger Boylan, whose work has earned blurbs from voices as disparate as the late underground comic scumbag Harvey Pekar to that very recently deceased lesson in literary refinement and American opera singing Dmitri Nabokov. This is the fifteenth year Gemini Ink, which typically focuses on outreach programs that go into classrooms and juvenile detention centers, will be offering its special summertime festival crash course. With a 15-student occupancy per course and classes on everything from writing thrillers to doing mommy blogging, the setting ensures a genuine intimacy. Classes start July 6 and run to the 22nd.

Poet and Community Organizer Sheila Black is thrilled about the work before her. As the new director of Gemini Ink beginning August 1, she looks forward to getting everyone involved in what she believes is a "value-building" project: learning to write (and, perhaps more importantly, learning to read) creatively. When Black recently visited SA, she was hit right away with how heavy the military population was, and started thinking of ways to bring them into Gemini Ink. "Writing is therapy," says the University of Montana MFA graduate who wants Gemini Ink to encompass every strata of SA: retired folk, drop outs, displaced poets, and discharged servicemembers. Black is decidedly a palimpsest-minded person who plans to actively engage in the teaching process as well as fulfill her role as director. And the people at Gemini Ink must have known that. "I thought it was a joke," says Black about the speed of her hire, "I put in the app and the next day got a response."

Though, in her estimation the point of learning creative writing is not, or should not necessarily ever mean, big time publication success, Black is no stranger to the world of marketable writing. Her first brush with publication came with a Golden Book story about the Easter bunny. In the years since that 1988 children's book, Black devoted herself to poetry, to translation, and to involving herself with the colonias of New Mexico, as well as the raising of her kids. Of creative writing as a method of social cohesion and never-give-up learning, Black is as honest as she is direct, "Creative writing is mostly fun for people; grammar, mostly not." •

University Without Walls
Summer Literary Festival

Gemini Ink
513 South Presa
(210) 734-9673
July 6-22

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