“Poems From My Pandemic Pen”: Interview with Theatrical Producer Carol Ostrow
“Poems From My Pandemic Pen” is a new book by theater producer Carol Ostrow that is being published by Three Tomatoes Book Publishing. Writing during quarantine helped Carol cope with the pandemic with humor. She recently discussed the book via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for poetry and what inspired you to start writing it?
Carol Ostrow (CO): I always loved poetry, like that of Robert Browning and Shakespeare. Never anticipated I would begin writing it until the pandemic hit. I was bubbling over with feelings and thoughts, so I decided to write them down. I also saw how seriously the situation was affecting my friends and the world around us. I wanted to keep balance, along with my sense of humor. It gave me a bit of control over the situation.
MM: How would you describe your poetic style?
CO: My style is pretty much my own invention. It has to have a musical beat. It is really a short story told in rhyme with a beginning, middle and an end. I also like to be unpredictable. The element of surprise is worth the effort.
MM: Why is humor such a prominent aspect in much of your work?
CO: Life can be and is a serious business. If we lose humor, we lose ourselves, perhaps in self-pity. Cannot stand feeling sorry for myself, so I “lighten up” with humor. Sort of making the medicine go down with a bit of sugar and a good laugh.
MM: How much impact did the lockdown have on your creativity?
CO: It was horrible at first. Too frightened to leave my home. There was no business or income from theatre sales. No theatre, opera, ballet, cabaret, or restaurants. The entire world was in fear of death from an unknown enemy. I was very frightened. It felt so strange to watch Netflix and Hulu, and find my only option was to binge on these choices with no creative outlets of my own making. I did begin creating videos for my Temple in order to raise much-needed money. I poured myself into this new industry. Then, the poetry saved me from going mad.
MM: How many poems did you write during this time and how did you find virtual outlets for sharing them?
CO: My wonderful, loving friends put up with my poems coming at them, fast and furiously, in e-mails. For many months I must have written two to three a day. It just poured out of me and could not stop the flow. Those who received them, really encouraged me to continue. That was all I needed: a little encouragement.
MM: How did the poems help you stay connected to people during the pandemic?
CO: The poems became a regular, daily habit. Some of my friends began writing back in poetry form on the same subjects. We became the dueling poetry club. It was hilarious. The activity brought us closer together. Many got in on the act. If I missed a day, I actually got calls to find out if I was alright.
MM: How did you find out about The Three Tomatoes Book Publishing?
CO: A wonderfully close friend had just written her own book called WITH NO REGRETS, GETTING OLDER: FACE IT, LIVE IT, LOVE IT. I was so impressed with her publisher Cheryl Benton at The Three Tomatoes. Cheryl worked hard with her, made a terrific presentation and I thought, well I have at least 100 poems. Perhaps I should just go ahead and risk rejection. She loved them, happily.
MM: How many poems are in your book and do you have any personal favorites?
CO: There are about 75. I love them all. However, 2 are my favorites: GUILT IS A WASTE OF TIME, and FIND LOVE WHERE YOU CAN, about being so in love with my cats. They really saved me from feeling alone. I could at least hug them in bed. Such good, loyal, loving company.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
CO: Other projects keep popping up. I really enjoy creating videos. It is a new challenge. Also, I have a new appreciation for how important friends and colleagues are in my life. Keeping interested in others enriches my life so much more than I ever realized. One lesson, learned more than any other, is to be kind. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, and it may be so much worse than what you are going through.
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To learn more about Carol Ostrow, visit her official Facebook page.