The Regrettable Passage: Patricia Carragon on Carol Wierzbicki’s Top Teen Greatest Hits


Carol Wierzbicki, Top Teen Greatest Hits, Poets Wear Prada Press

For me, adolescence was the regrettable passage from childhood to the demands of hormones and higher education. For Carol Wierzbicki, it became the Top Teen Greatest Hits, an intriguing collection of poems published by Poets Wear Prada Press (2009). Ms. Wierzbicki is tough and sensitive. She writes as if she were an observer during her rite of passage, even stepping back when she was five and six, taking in situations and translating growing pains into mini stories. Mundane occurrences, whether sad or funny, are refreshing to read, filled with insight and lessons.

For instance, in New Name (for Mom), the six-year-old Carol requested her mother to call her Lisa. Her mother said:

Would you like a glass of milk … Lisa?
Are you going outside now … Lisa?

And Carol wrote:

Mom gives me time to chafe at the name
that has begun to rub spots on my psyche
raw. She doesn’t quit
until I tell her to abandon it.

Her mother was teaching her the value of being at peace with one’s name and self, which is not an easy lesson for either child or adult to absorb. Carol writes this without being sentimental or coy. Her words are simple and her metaphors work. You feel the harsh rubbing on her psyche’s sore spots—a lesson being learned.

Another example is the poem, Dorothy’s Poem (for Dorothy Friedman). Although this excellent piece was dedicated to Ms. Friedman, Carol makes you feel it’s universal. I can relate to this. We, in many ways, are little amputated people walking around and the past is not black-and-white nor sepia tone. But the train is our home—life moves to the next station and we learn to laugh or cry at the passing scenery, knowing that rules make no sense.

Carol Wierzbicki’s Top Teen Greatest Hits is a big hit. In each of her fourteen poems, Ms. Wierzbicki mastered the technique of storytelling through perception and simplicity—her rite of passage to be read and shared by all.

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Patricia Carragon is a New York City poet and writer. Her publications include Poetz.com, Rogue Scholars, Poets Wear Prada, Best Poem, Big City Lit, CLWN WR, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Ditch Poetry Magazine, Mobius the Poetry Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Marymark Press, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press). She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. Patricia hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of the annual anthology.

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