While San Antonio’s thriving arts community is ripe with talent, the literary scene is often overlooked in favor of other forms of artistic expression. Our music, visual arts, dance, theater, and film typically receive more attention in area media, though local literati know we have a strong scene (albeit typically a quiet one). While we may still be best known on the national literary circuit for Sandra Cisneros’ adoption of SA as her hometown, we have a plethora of women and men of the pen taking wing. Novelist David Liss has written five historical novels (as well as a few comic books), and nationally renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye and poet and publisher Barbara Ras, director of Trinity University Press, are two steady lights in our firmament.
Cisneros gives back through the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, which selects master-level writers from across the city for a weeklong workshop to explore their creative process in depth.
If you’re looking for literature with lungs, check out the Jazz Poets Society (to be covered in the Current’s LIT-url blog soon), Puro Slam (heckling can be constructive criticism, y’all), and countless open mics at local bars and coffeehouses. All together, they’re helping prepare the way for emerging literary talent.
Parents can get their young ones engaged early, too, through programs at the San Antonio Public Library, Gemini Ink, and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. The library’s Young Pegasus Poetry Competition for young writers, for instance, has been in existence since 1927, according to Viki Ash, coordinator of children’s services.
Bryce Milligan of Wings Press stressed the importance of immersing one’s child into the arts at an early age. “It takes a truly exceptional child — and generally one with parents who are actively involved in their educational lives — to rise above this system that we have created that teaches almost no history, treats literature as if it is merely a stepping stone to reading business journals, and is frightened of serious science.”