Poets Unleashed
Contributors: Ron Cross, Patricia Joe Schuman, Al Michael, Thomas Lee Rhymes, Kim Shaver, Kathleen Redling, Dennis Moore, Mariano Rivera, and Gisele Marasca

Writer's Showcase
IUniverse.com imprint
Lincoln, NE

Interview with Poets Unleashed by Kara L.C. Jones

Q: How did you all come together to make this book?

Ron: I think it was a naturally progression of where we were as a group at the time. I had been attending the group (Poets Round Table at Borders in Winter Park) for quite a while and through attrition I was asked to lead the group by the good people at Borders. Several of the previous leaders would say “we ought to do a book” but nothing ever came of it. I don’t know why, could have been fear to take on such a task, could have been not enough time to commit to the project. I don’t really know why. After I became the leader I simply said one evening “Let’s do the book”. Everyone was excited about the prospects. The book took on a life of its own and really was a labor of love. That is why all the writer’s royalties are being donated to the Children’s Home Society. We wanted to give something back to society.


Q: What exactly is the Children’s Home Society and how are you working with them?

Ron: The Children’s Home Society is a non-profit organization established in 1902. It is an organization that provides a host of counseling and support services whose aim is to strengthen family relationships. The children’s well being are central to their work. It is a very noble cause and Poets Unleashed is happy to help in our own small way.


Q: Have you all been published before this book came out?

Ron: I have been published in a few books and magazines over the years. I have been writing since I was 14 or 15. I must say I have been blessed with good teachers that encouraged me every step of the way. You may find this surprising but getting published has not always been a priority for me. That is until this book, Poets Unleashed.

Al: As Ron knows I have never been published before. I have had rejections.

Gisele: No. This was the first time my work was published.


Q: How did you go about getting the book published and what has your experience been like doing it?

Ron: It’s a lot of work, short answer. I found during our efforts to get the book together I
didn’t write as much. I would say that is the down side. There were many brainstorming sessions on what it should be like, who should do the front cover, the normal things. I
think the most difficult thing to settle on was the name. I must admit though it was a very democratic process. We came up with several names, then voted on it. Gisele offered to do the cover and she came through with flying colors. I do hope she wants to do the second book, and the third, and the fourth! I hope she reads this interview! The work part was getting the manuscript together and proof read. My wife, Cindy, was a godsend. She typed in everyone’s poems. One might think that that is easy but when it comes to poetry there is style involved (presentation on the page). The poems we received by email were jumbled at times. Once we had the poems in manuscript form, she and I both proof read them prior to giving the manuscript to the group. The group was great. They met deadlines that we had assigned and pointed out small errors that we had missed. The nice thing about it is that the publisher found very little wrong with it. The work we did showed up in the end product. While we were drafting the manuscript I began to check out publishing houses and found several that appeared appropriate. We settled on iUniverse and submitted our manuscript. I believe the program’s name we submitted our manuscript to was the “Writer’s Showcase”. It had to go through a quality review and an editorial review. They actually sent us the responses of the reviewers’ comments. We were very pleased with their efforts. And I think the quality of the physical book speaks for itself. The one caution I would give is that once you submit you are on “their” schedule. When they send out the proof copy there is a very short turn around so be prepared.


Q: How do you spread the word about your work and this book? Was this a process you all had done before publishing the book?

Ron: iUniverse provides great guidance in marketing the book. I guess the biggest thing you would have to say about us is that we are not bashful. We contacted the newspapers, radios stations, created flyers, talked to groups, gave poetry readings (even at the art museum), mailed out copies of our book to people who might have an interest. We actually have received tremendous support in this area. We were interviewed by the Winter Park Newspaper, The Observer. They gave us a just less than a 3rd of a page. We called WMFE a local radio station that has a weekly program on the arts. The program is called “The Arts Connection”. Patricia Madden is the host. I dropped a book off at the reception’s desk one day and she called shortly after that. It was really interesting, Patricia invited Al Michael and I over to discuss the book. We were greatly surprised when she led us into the studio to interview us right then and there! I have to say I was a little nervous at first but Patricia is such a professional she made us feel very at ease. The interview is another story. To say the least Al and I are almost the antithesis of one another, that is in complementary way. Other ways we’ve promoted the book were through book signings at Borders and Books-a-million. We even created post cards and bookmarks. We mailed out the post cards to all of our family and friends. The bookmarks we deposited all over Orlando! I can honestly say we don’t know where this is going but we are having great fun.


Q: Are there significant things that you feel you all have learned about each other from working together like this? Were there any surprises along the way that you discovered?

Ron: I think the biggest surprise for me was how close we all have become. We have socials periodically outside of our standing poetry meetings where we will gather at one or another’s house. The invitations always include dinner (!), socializing and yes reading poetry. Our spouses and significant others come as well. It is great entertainment and fun. You may not find that at all remarkable but the fact is we have members in Poets Unleashed that are Twenty Something to Seventy Something and everything in between. One wouldn’t think that with such a large disparity in age we would be able to sustain the group. But I am happy to say we have. The thing I have learned working with the others is how patient and gracious the members of Poets Unleashed are. If there were disagreements at any point a way was always found forward with both sides willing to compromise.

Al: Considering I’m a poet in “on the job training”, the exposure to other poets, with differing styles, has been valuable to me. The interchange of thoughts and ideas is stimulating. It gives me a chance to measure myself against others. Because we meet on a regular basis, and share our work, it motivates me to keep writing, constantly. I know I have progressed because of the group interaction. As to surprises, I’m surprised to see how competent I’ve become. I never imagined I could do this successfully. Also, how the group has become a friend to me and others. It’s an interesting and rewarding experience.

Gisele: It amazed me that a group of people with such different personalities and backgrounds and such diverse writing styles could work so well together to publish and promote this poetry book.


Q: Do you all have a website? If so, what’s the URL and what information will a reader find there?

Ron: Thomas Rhyme (yes that is his real name!) set up a web site for us. It contains pictures of all of us at our book signings, some of our poetry and our purpose as a group. If I may our purpose is:

Through the written word the human condition is explored so that we may under stand ourselves and the society that sustains us. The difference between the eventuality and the possibility lies in the action one takes. The purity of the action is the glue that binds a people together and gives us our voice, our purpose.

So much has been given to us, it is time for the artist to give a little back. Poets Unleashed, therefore, is a group of people dedicated to the promotion of poetry and the support of charitable organizations. It is hoped that through our actions we lighten the burden of those in need and provide the seeds for a more perfect society.

The URL is: http://members.tripod.com/poetsunleashed/index.htm


Q: Are you all still writing together now that the book is done?

Ron: Definitely. We are still writing and sharing via emails and our weekly meetings. It is wonderful to have such a dynamic and diverse community to live in. I think we all have grown closer and I certainly have benefited from my association with the group.

Al: Are we still writing together? The group is still intact, and the feeling of identity still exists. We seem to look forward to sharing our work and thoughts.

Gisele: I haven’t attended the poetry reading meetings lately due to life circumstances. It’s definitely something I want to go back to though. I really miss the creative exchange.


Q: Do you think you’ll do more books like this in the future? What’s the vision for Poets Unleashed in say 5 or 10 years from now?

Ron: Actually we are working on our second book. It’s a little late in coming per our original schedule, but hopefully we can get it submitted in the spring to the publisher. Our goal was to have it completed before the holidays but a lot has happened since August. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who were directly affected by the tragedy of September 11th.

I think my vision for Poets Unleashed is to promote the writing of poetry and to give back to society what we can. It is not about individuals. It is the work that is important. I think our group’s Purpose on our web site really says it all. Will it endure? I hope so, if not the group then the idea of giving back to society. We are all very fortunate to live in this great country.

Al: We plan on publishing at least one more book similar to the first one. Also considering a follow on with a wider range of quality work. As to visions: since central Florida seems to be a mecca for creative talents, I think the birthing of writers and poets will continue, and somehow, local colleges may play more dominant role in this growth. Maybe there will be instructional classes available, and more opportunities for continuing growth in people’s skills. Maybe someone from this area will become famous, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Gisele: We do intend to publish a second book with the original group’s more recent work, and maybe a third book featuring work by new members. Vision for our future? I hope we’ll still be writing and getting published!

Ron: I’d like to thank Kota Press and its readers for this opportunity to discuss our book and our work here in Central Florida. It has been a real priviledge.

Editors's Note: Please page thru this month's issue of the KotaPress Poetry Journal to see the poems of Poets Unleashed featured!

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