Have you ever felt moved or stunned by a painting, sculpture or any work of visual art? For me, that has happened multiple times but the occasion that I recall the most vividly was my first encounter with the famous “Winged Victory” figure at the Louvre in Paris when I was five years old. The way I remember it, my mother and I came up a flight of stairs and suddenly it was there, in front of us, this huge, headless, winged marble figure whose wings and garments seemed wind-blown, a mute but powerfully eloquent statue that commanded total attention. I think the fact that it was headless made a deep impression on me. The statue dates back to ancient Greece times but, I am pretty sure, I knew nothing about the cultural impact of ancient Greece back then; it was the sheer presence of the artwork that stunned me.
The reason I am remembering this experience is the upcoming workshop at Gemini Ink titled “Painting the Page”: Writing about The Visual Arts” which will be led by well-known poet Matt Donovan this Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will “engage in the ekphrastic tradition of writing about art as well as gathering strategies for how the visual arts can inspire future writing projects.” Fascinating! I never wrote about my “Winged Victory” encounter but a workshop like this could very well open up a new channel of personal expression for both poets and prose writers.
Donovan is a multiple-award winning poet and chair of Creative Writing and Literature at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. His book of lyrical essays, “A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape: Meditations on Ruin and Redemption” was published this year by Trinity University Press.
Other workshops offered this month include exploring the art of short fiction; a multi-session examination of young adult storytelling (a popular genre), and “The Soldier’s Rucksack: A Workshop with Acclaimed Author and War Veteran Brian Turner” which will focus on how writers can tackle the most difficult experiences by studying predecessors who have written about war and conflict.
Gemini Ink is really a unique San Antonio treasure. There’s no other place in town where writers of all skill levels can work with established pros to refine their craft and get their work evaluated. No prerequisites are required beyond your interest and desire to write. The organization, led by distinguished poet Sheila Black, also recruits professional writers to work in schools and other community setting to develop both literacy and writing skills among people of all ages, and offers opportunities for the general public to meet and hear some of the best literary minds of our time.
If you want to help Gemini Ink’s efforts and have fun at the same time, you could attend its popular annual fundraiser, cleverly named Inkstravaganza, scheduled for Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Pearl Stable. The evening will honor San Antonio writer Jan Jarboe Russell whose excellent nonfiction work, “The Train to Crustal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II” has garnered national attention and won the Texas Institute of Letter’s Carr Collins Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 2015. And you get to rub elbows with the local literati!
(For details go to www.geminiink.org)