Albany Poetry 
Workshop Logo

Sponsored Ads

Featured Guest Poet Carol Levin


ignore the poem I sent
it isn't worth the paper
I picked it up and shook
until it slid
off the page in
a hodgepodge
I stomped it like
black grapes
left it to ferment until
it took on
new sagacity
under a new label
on new premier bond

ignore the new one
the poem
boiled down into
black juice
and spurted
the incandescent
moment round as
a grape that
needs now to be

even though
you can't find
a place for it
at this moment
and are sorry
to be returning
thank you for
wishing success
in the future

the new poem
close to complete
will crackle charisma
and a memorable
statement impossible
to ignore

January, 1999

Carol Levin's Questions:

The title of this poem is giving me trouble, on one hand, it is a reference to the process of beginning again and again, but sometimes when I look at it I think it brings everything to a complete stop. also, I have been told not to write about writing. I would be interested in hearing responses to this.

Carol, I LIKE this's fresh and original, and you CAN write about poetry (did I say not to?)...just need to be very original when you do so....and recognize that some editors don't like "poems about writing poetry" ....This one flies though! And I like your title too.
Pat Fargnoli
USA - Sun Jan 24 13:34:45 1999
I personally think you did a very good job in being original in a topic where certain angles are hammered into the ground. One thing I felt about your poem is that it sometimes seems a little too clipped. Lines like "afterwards" and "black grapes" are effective as their own lines, but it loses something because a reader like myself tends to read breaks almost like commas, as statements (especially since some of the lines seemed designed to do so). The second and third stanzas I felt gave your line of though a really choppy feel.
Chip Anderson
USA - Sun Jan 24 16:57:38 1999
Carol, I like the poem; it shows the poet's labour, the dissatisfaction with the "imperfect" pieces, the striving for words that shape images with "charisma". Only at that point ink gets color and taste and smell.
Paula Grenside
ITALY - Sat Jan 30 09:20:09 1999
Carol, You have perfectly captured the feelings of a poet submitting material. You are never sure that this is your best work. You are always sure that the new poem on which you are working is much better. I like the reference to poetry as winemaking. That poems should be left to ferment. It's an analogy I hadn't thought to associate with poetry writing, yet it makes sense. Having written about almost everything, I can say there is no subject that you shouldn't write about as long as you feel strongly and have something new to say. Also I like your title. In fact I love this poem and wouldn't change anything except in the last stanza I would change "complete" to "completion". Otherwise an excellent poem about a subject with which many of us are very familiar.
Barbara Ehrentreu
USA - Sat Jan 30 16:27:29 1999
although the metaphor of wine-making is interesting, i found the cathartic honesty of self-criticism to be most provocative. I am intrigued by the idea that a poet must exorcise the cliche, the old lingering ideas, the temptations of prestige. because a poem is elegant only if it is tempered. DISCARDS has remined me that a large part of the poetry process is the stepping out of the poem; to objectify the poem from the poet. as far as the title goes, i think that titles should not summarize the poem, but to compliment it. DISCARDS seems to have this goal in mind. and to write poetry in the name of poetry? it is the purest subject of all if i dare admit. thanks for sharing DISCARDS, looking forward to your future work.
USA - Sat Jan 30 17:01:09 1999
Dear Carol, This is a great poem. The tone is perfect: frustration with the whole process, the whole business of making poetry. And there's real integrity in this. The bubble of pretentiousness often to be found in the poetry industry is gently deflated with style and neat ironic humour your final stanza. It's nicely ironic, too, that the wise warned against writing about writing. As for the title, I do see your point about its abruptness being a turn-off, but I'm afraid I can't really think of a better one. 'Remnants' maybe? No. Regards, JL
Jon Lishman
England - Sat Jan 30 21:49:34 1999
Carol it's ok to change nothing, write about anything, or after a sufficient fermentation process to acquire a more intoxicated take on the whole issue of being received at the level you hope to be. Discards are the ones you toss into the pile hoping that fate will smile upon you, and the dealer will gift you with a mate for a pair, or a straight flush. I rather enjoy these words, even the "choppy" against the flow rhythm at times. More!
Harry Shifman
USA - Sun Jan 31 12:16:18 1999
Carol, First, as a writer you should write about whatever you want. You shouldn't place limits on yourself before you even begin the poems. Second, I think I would change the title. Some ideas, maybe something to do with grapes, or the wine making process, or even "revision." There is a poem by Lorine Niedecker on the subject simply entitled "Poet's Work." Other suggestions, in the second stanza you use "black jucies," what about changing it to "dark jucies," it would keep the black idea, but would also add to the "d" sound that runs through out the second stanza.
Brad Vogler
USA - Sun Feb 14 09:01:30 1999
I thank each of you who have given such thoughtful replies to my questions. I have been excited by every suggestion, it helps me see the poem through new eyes. After reading your notes I have come to like the title more. But I like Brad Vogler's suggestion to use dark instead of black. Very helpful. Thank you so much.
Carol Levin
USA - Mon Feb 15 16:25:20 1999
Hello Carol, I enjoyed your poem. I thought "Discards" was a fine title, and one fitting of our time, don't you think? You say: "I picked it up and shook/until it slid/ off the page in/ a hodgepodge/I stomped it like/ black grapes/ left it to ferment until it took on/ new sagacity/ under a new label/on new premier bond/ignore the new one..." I tripped on "Left it to ferment" (maybe without the "it"?). You say "new" four times without apparent reason. I like the "c" alliteration at the end, and the grape theme throughout.
Patty Mooney
USA - Thu Feb 18 23:33:27 1999

Sponsored Ads