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The Big Texas Read

A Celebration of our State’s Big Appetite for Literature brought to you by
Writing Workshops Dallas & Gemini Ink.

Next Up: Wendy Barker'sGloss (11/18)

November 18th, 2020 via Zoom @ 7:00PM CST

Unplug from the outside world and JOIN us at The Big Texas Read (TBTR) brought to you by Writing Workshops Dallas and Gemini Ink. As featured in Poets&Writers, Forbes, Book Riot, The Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News, we’ll be reading ONE work of prose or poetry written by a Texas author every month! We’ll be with you all the way from page one to “THE END” with our Zoom author chats and Q&A’s, scheduled every two weeks. It's a big virtual book club, and we'd love for you to join in the fun!

We’ll read poet Wendy Barker's Gloss on 11/18. In a haunting and, ultimately, stunning, sequence of poems in varied lyrical forms, Wendy Barker’s Gloss develops a narrative that poses questions about her mother’s unusual, seemingly privileged, British background. The poems of this gripping book are punctuated by short syllabic meditations on a Chinese scroll picturing a lone man paddling up a long river toward mountains. These little poems serve as tension-building breaks between lineated, conversational poems and prose poems that describe shiny yet tarnished pieces of family silver and snippets of family memories.

11/18/20: Wendy Barker, Gloss
12/11/20: Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Barefoot Dogs
3/10/21: Julia Heaberlin: We Are All the Same in the Dark
4/7/21: Heather Harper Ellet: Ain’t Nobody Nobody

Debut Novelist Fowzia Karimi:Above Us the Milky Way
Edgar-winning novelist Joe R. Lansdale: Edge of Dark Water
Winner of the Iowa Prize for Nonfiction Kendra Allen: When You Learn the Alphabet
2020 Texas Poet Laureate Emmy Perez: With The River on Our Face
New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen Kent: The Dime & The Burn
Critically Acclaimed Novelist David Samuel Levinson: Tell Me How This Ends Well

We're excited to partner with Interabang Books in Dallas and The Twig Book Shop in San Antonio for The Big Texas Read. You can order your book directly from either bookstore and have it delivered to your front door!


Her touch is as delicate as the family silver, and as tough as thefamily secrets. Her meanings are as richly ambiguous as the word "gloss"itself, polishing, concealing, interpreting. All those shinings at thesurface of things, and all those thready, stony rivulets in a familyhistory, a history of mothers and grandmothers and great– grandmothersand aunts, involving years of posh and poverty––Barker sets them out ason a showcase framed in silk, with the double gloss of precision andcompassion. — Alicia Ostriker, author of Waiting for the Light 

In Gloss,Wendy Barker meditates on the vagaries of memory, the tidal pull offamily lore, the complexities of national identity, and the marvelous,often painful, interactions of three generations of women over manydecades. With formal inventiveness, a story teller’s eye for detail, anda profound understanding of the way deep family history lives inside usall, Barker has written a truly memorable collection of poems, one Iwill return to again with great pleasure.  — Kevin Prufer, author of How He Loved Them 

Investigatingthe currents of her inheritance from England, Barker shows howintricately language and narrative mark identity. Britishisms andAmericanisms become entwined in the struggle of women in her family tolive according to their own choices. The images speak to one anotherfrom inside the lines of elegance versus roughness, and questions ofwhat is genuine. Where there is critical unearthing there is alsocompassion. The feeling of the book is neither contrite nor withoutapology. It is the certain fact of being this woman, a poet who summonsthe figure of Cordelia in understanding how we come to be, despite thefact of not being seen by the objects of our adoration, whose eyes donot know the true heart. In the definite elegance that appears in thispoetic appeal to questions of who we are, Barker troubles “These storiesno one speaks. How we're silenced, mute.” Gloss is a splendidly honest work, where the lines breathe courage in the air beyond time. — Afaa M. Weaver, author of Spirit Boxing 

Incrystalline images Wendy Barker unwraps the tightly wrapped package ofher mother's story, each layer exposing more and more, as she turns fromher mother to her grandmother's disastrous and romantic life, all thewhile showing how mothers pass on their beauty and fears to theirdaughters. In this deep and resonant book stories are gotten wrong,nightmares erupt, and secrets can finally be spoken. Barker weaves prosepoems and verse into an elegant tapestry of the pentimento of onewoman's life. — Barbara Hamby, author of Bird Odyssey

WendyBarker’s Gloss utilizes the lyric form to conduct an archaeologicaldig, a profound excavation. With wit and candor, the poet unspools thenarratives of three generations of women to create a family portraitthat is vivid, complex, and sometimes shocking. Gloss sifts through themud of personal history in a quest for the “patterns” that might provideus with answers to the universal question, “how do we become what weare?” — Vincent Toro, author of Stereo. Island. Mosaic.

Wendy Barker's sixth collection of poetry, One Blackbird at a Time,received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry (BkMk Press, 2015). Her fifthchapbook is Shimmer (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). An anthology of poemsabout the 1960s, Far Out: Poems of the '60s, co-edited with DaveParsons, was released by Wings Press in 2016. Other books include aselection of poems with accompanying essays, Poems' Progress (Absey& Co., 2002), and a selection of translations, Rabindranath Tagore:Final Poems (co-translated with Saranindranath Tagore, Braziller, 2001).Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies includingThe Southern Review, Nimrod, New Letters, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, andPlume, as well as The Best American Poetry 2013. She is the author ofLunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor(Southern Illinois University Press, 1987), as well as co- editor (withSandra M. Gilbert) of The House is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone(Southern Illinois University Press, 1996). Recipient of NEA andRockefeller fellowships among other awards, she is the Pearl LeWinnEndowed Chair and Poet-in-Residence at the University of Texas at SanAntonio, where she has taught since 1982. Wendy is married to thecritic, biographer, essayist, and poet Steven G. Kellman.

We hope that our lively discussions about literature will enliven you to pick up a pen or sit down at a typewriter or computer and get writing yourself!

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