'The Virus Poems'


Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Pasquale Trozzolo

Updated: Purchase "Before the Distance" HERE and HERE

What’s the first thing you put your mind to when #Quarantine2020 hit?

For some, it’s been baking Banana Bread, for others it’s choreographed Tiktok bits, and for a more deep-thinking and philosophical segment of the population, “poetry is having a moment…enjoying a bump in cultural relevance as the world sits at home and considers its surroundings.” -@VanityFair.

Take local Kansas City communications maven and resident word craftsman, Pasquale Trozzolo; thanks to a storied professional background within an exceptional level of verbal vision and articulation, the freedom of writing creative briefs about this unprecedented pandemic has been a welcomed change of pace, one where Trozzolo thought, “life has really changed, maybe I should find a new audience?” And now, he's a bona fide published poet! (You can see some of his works, including “Thoughts of Social UnDistancing" here and “Before the distance” here; additional publications include Sunspot Literary Journal, The Virgin Islands Source, The Pangolin Review, and the 34th Parallel)

I had the absolute pleasure of chatting, digitally of course, with Pasquale who blew me away with his whimsical and sarcastic spirit about life during otherwise dark, deep, and incomprehensible times. A  “semi-retired business owner with too much time on my hands,” Trozzolo has made concerted “efforts to complicate my life; I’m trying to live out as many retirement clichés as possible.” Enter a conscious acknowledgement of the esteemed world of poetry and a surprise love at first sight-type of magnetism.

Emily Dickinson’s “I cannot dance upon my Toes” hit an influential chord with Pasquale; those words resonated with him and brought significant meaning, resulting in a “Don’t be afraid to try new things!” mantra. Likewise, Kim Addonizio’s “Tell me” also prompted him to keep passionately at this newfound craft. But he didn’t stop there; queue the textbook education filled “with words like villanelle, pantoum and sestina” (Pasquale; gonna need some tutoring on this verbiage, stat) coupled with enrollment in online poetry from Oxford University, of all uncommon, retirement-bound destinations. 

With an entirely new appreciation for the creative arts, his Coronavirus-inspired poetry started out with writing a communal toast for dinner parties filled with friends. As Pasquale and his wife hosted at home, he wrote out dinner toast salutations backed by his profound thoughts, putting sentiment by thought-provoking sentiment in a notebook and calling on guests around the table to read their rotational toast he forged, to acknowledge this weird era.

Pasquale with wife Joan, and when Pasquale is not working on his poetry, he can often be found in the kitchen making a mess with food instead of words.

At first, he wanted NO ONE to see them. It induced a sort of unexpected hesitancy; would they laugh? Would they find it ridiculous? Would the pandemic that gave him courage to venture into something new merely come off as “just a phase?!” Trozzolo went from 60 hours a week to just 6; a radical change in lifestyle that also prompted this challenging, yet hugely gratifying new chapter of this you-only-live-once life. 

As for his friends and family reading his finished poems? “Others reading it feels more emotional, reading silently or aloud; it is...evocative...it feels like a flirt, like a first date that is going well. And, it is emotional; seeing individuals react emotionally is rewarding.” He found it also compels people to dig deeper and reflect on their own lives; it can strike up unexpected emotions and thoughts that positions them to make a move, an enhancement, or a change.

Pasquale and family - Jill Trozzolo Wuetherich, Pasquale and Joan Trozzolo, Sarah Trozzolo Brewster and Angelo Trozzolo

Pasquale started his journey into poetry in the summer of 2019 where he began writing every single day, with purpose, even if just one word. He always committed to some level of discipline to hone his craft. 

Let Pasquale be an inspiration, young or old, to maximize your creative spirit and never suppress your hunger to continue learning, even if that brings with it a feeling of vulnerability and self-questioning:

“If you are not risking the sense of shame, it takes the fun out of it.” Well put, and we can’t wait to see the future illustrations you couple with your anticipated future poetry creations!

Pasquale and Joan Trozzolo in front of their Leawood home. The art piece is called Giant Steps by Artist Dennis Smith - "Poetry seems like giant steps to me."

About the Author:

Pasquale Trozzolo is the founder and now semi-retired chairman of Trozzolo Communications Group, one of the regions most well known advertising and public relations firms. In addition to building his business he also spent time as a race car driver and grad school professor.

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