Leila Joiner credits her OASIS creative writing classes and her dedicated instructor with giving her the confidence to launch a publishing company at the age of 66.
“I’ve taken several creative writing classes over the years, but Dan Gilmore at Tucson OASIS was one of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered,” Leila says.
Leila first enrolled in an OASIS creative writing class in 2001 because she noticed considerable improvement in the work of one of her friends who had taken the class. Gilmore wanted to publish a book of the writings of class participants, and he asked Leila to help.
“That was the beginning of the OASIS Journal,” Leila says. The first book was produced via fundraising efforts, and sold enough copies to fund the production of a book the following year. Within two years, the book was a national effort, and Leila launched her publishing company – Imago Press.
Today, Imago Press publishes the OASIS Journal every year, featuring the work of writers age 50 and older. The journal receives more then 250 submissions each year from writers all over the country and even from overseas. A typical OASIS Journal will include more than 60 poems, more than a dozen short stories and a few dozen essays. The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“Older people have so much experience and so many life stories, but many don’t know how to get started writing,” Leila says. “The OASIS creative writing classes are a great way to help them get started and the OASIS Journal is a good outlet for them. I get so many letters from people who are just happy to have someplace to submit their writings.”
Imago Press is now Leila’s full-time job at the age of 76, and the company has published many books, including several books written by Dan. The OASIS Journal, which is available on Amazon, is a “labor of love” for Leila, and she works on it from May through November every year. “I know how difficult it is for older writers to get published and I feel they have much to contribute,” she says. “I’m glad that the Journal helps bring attention to OASIS, because it’s a very worthwhile organization.”