The Poet's Occasional Alternative By Grace Paley Summary

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"The Poet’s Occasional Alternative" by Grace Paley and ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’ by Dylan Thomas are poems which portrays writing as an arduous and under-appreciated form of art. In "The Poet’s Occasional Alternative", the speaker’s disillusionment with the poor reception of his poetry is exacerbated by the contrasting attention his pie receives, while the speaker in ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’ reveals his motivations for persevering in his writing despite the lack of attention it receives.

Both poems illustrate how the act of writing receives little attention from the masses and is thus an unappreciated form of art. In "The Poet’s Occasional Alternative”, the speaker likens the process of writing poetry to that of making a pie with starkly different results. The pie is described to “already” have a “tumbling audience”, and these expressions show how the pie is able to garner a substantial and excited following with ease, even from “small trucks” which are inanimate objects, presumably toys. The repetition of “will” in the third stanza also implies the absoluteness of the pie’s positive reception, which further contributes to the speaker’s bitter tone as the same cannot be said for his poetry. The speaker also states that his friends ask “why in the world did you make only one”, which suggests a demand for his pie, which is the contrary situation for his poetry. He then switches to a tone of resignation in the penultimate stanza as he is forced to accept the fact that

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