Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Zo- Alonzo Gross went on to graduate from Temple University with a BA in English literature and a Minor in Dance. He started dancing, writing songs, poetry, and short stories at age 7, and successfully performed at the Legendary Apollo Theater as a dancer by age 18.
Zo released a book of art & poetry in 2012 titled: “Inspiration Harmony & The Word Within.”
In 2014 Zo traveled to Los Angeles, California to be one of the featured poets/musicians in a documentary film called “VOICES” directed by Gina Nemo. Zo was again Nominated for “Best Spoken Word Poet” in 2016.
His Poetry has been featured in several anthologies, as well as magazines. In 2016, he released a Rap CD “A Madness 2 The Method,” along with a new book of poetry: “Soul EliXiR”
“PoemZ 4 U AND YourZ,” is his latest work, Rap music-inspired poetry and art/photo event where the blues street meets the neo-classical, and earning him the monicker as a Neo-Shakespeare. The book also won the 2022 International Book Award Urban Poetry Book of the Year.
zAG: I realized this when I was in first grade. We had an assignment to do Haiku and I was able to grasp the concept of Haiku and its attributes at a young age and I can even remember my first Haiku,
“A Pretty Flower
Is like a Pretty Feeling
Sniff One You Will See”
This was actually my first Haiku poem when I was 6 years old. I saw the look in the teacher’s face of bewilderment of how I could write something at that age in her words, “With such depth.” She even held a meeting with my mother to get me into the Gifted Writing classes in first grade. It was around that moment when I first started hearing the word “Gift” and “Talented” in regards to how I expressed myself through words.
B&P: What’s your writing process like?
zAG: My writing process usually starts writing with Jazz playing or the sound of waves, anything that does not distract from my process. Silence is also golden. I’m listening for that voice inside to guide me to the words through a deep meditation and through this meditation, I’m grateful to be blessed with insights that I normally wouldn’t have. To create a full-length book, I compose anywhere upwards to 300 poems and formulate them into a book with the pieces that align to the common theme. Not unlike someone who makes records.
zAG: First and foremost from God. It can also be from something that I read, music that I hear or create. Also, from observation of people, places, and things and life in general.
B&P: Your wife also has a book out. Can you share some information about her and her book?
zAG: My wife and I have our own publishing label called, “Seed Royale Publishing” where we also publish other artists.
My wife’s latest book, “Every” is the first book from this label which is part memoir, part poetry. It’s about her experience in life as an Egyptian/Palestinian woman, born in America with some of the obstacles, tribulations, and eventual successes that she’s had along the way. The book also contains her brilliant poetry done in a poetic memoir form.
B&P: Your poetry book “PoemZ 4 U And YourZ” won the 2022 International Book Awards. How did that make you feel?
zAG: That made me feel really ecstatic. My wife and I were vacationing in National Harbor, Maryland when I received the email that I had won. I felt very grateful because this was my second book award. The first was Poetry Book of the Year at the Bookfest Book Awards in April of 2022. I’m honored to have also received The Golden Heart Literary Prize from the World Foundation as well as being nominated for several other book awards that are forthcoming.
B&P: You have a social media presence. How have you found this to help you, or publicize your poetry, and what do you wish was more available to further help?
zAG: I’ve found that it helps my work to reach people across the world instantly. I can talk with them in regards to how they feel about creativity, some who ask me about my process, and to share ideas with other great artists globally. We actually found my publisher, Rebecca Anne Banks of Subterranean Blue Poetry, for my second book of poetry released in 2018 called, “Soul Elixir The WritingZ of zO” as well as my current book, “PoemZ 4 U And YourZ” that way.
She actually contacted me after seeing my work Online and offered her services. She did a wonderful job.
B&P: What makes poetry a powerful medium?
zAG: Poetry is about feelings and every living human being has feelings. If an Artist can tap into those feelings, he or she can move the reader or listener to tears, happiness, motivation, or bliss—the work touches some part of their soul.
B&P: Do you believe that poetry can transcend race, gender, politics? Or is that the strength of poetry, to bring these things to the forefront?
zAG: I would say that if you believe that all good things come from a higher power, or the God of your understanding, whomever that might be, and you are blessed with a certain gift, be it music or poetry, it is not a burdensome task for the work itself to transcend to all corners of the world. It is in this way, that the work becomes spiritual, thereby, reaching the masses universally.
B&P: What advice do you have for new writers, or poets? Things you wish you had known earlier?
zAG: It’s okay to be fearless because mistakes are your allies. Through making mistakes you can discern some of your highest truths. Many people are afraid to make mistakes but making mistakes are actually blessings as they guide you to your purpose. Triumphs are also beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s usually through making mistakes that the triumphs follow you soon after. So be Fearless.
B&P: What future plans do you have?
zAG: I am currently working on an Audio Music and Sound Book (AMS book) for “PoemZ 4 U And YourZ” which will be part audiobook, along with my original music composition that I will be scoring, and also with sounds to make the book seem more like a movie than just an audiobook.
I’m also working on my next Rap CD to release sometime in 2023. My Wife and I are collaborating on a children’s book, and I am working on a Memoir Poetry Book. My wife and I are looking to publish other artists and writers through our Seed Royale Publishing Label, as well as a Stage play based on my book, “PoemZ 4 U And YourZ.”
Also, whatever else God has in store for me I’m open to experience.
B&P: Anything you would like mentioned that I have not asked?
zAG: I would like to give a special thanks to my big brother/mentor/teacher Bobby Ivory for teaching me the fundamentals of music, art, dance, fashion, poetry, and literature at a young age. If you are blessed enough to have someone who believes in you wholeheartedly in your gifts, it is nothing short of miraculous.
My brother has the ‘Millionaire Mindset’ which is also the name of his clothing line. The Millionaire Mindset has little or nothing to do with money, but it is a way of life, thinking, like having a million-dollar smile. He taught me to conduct my art with that same smile.
And also my beautiful wife, who also is an extraordinary artist and who is often my collaborator on many projects and usually she is the first person to see my work before it ever gets out. She has helped to make my work also grow exponentially and I wish only to do the same for her.
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