Poetry Friday: Grace Paley – The Poet’s Occasional Alternative


The Poetry Friday roundup is  @ Tabatha Yeatts:  The Opposite of Indifference

     December 11th. was the poet, educator and social activist Grace Paley’s birthday.  She would have been 91.  

“The outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.” —Short-story writer, poet, and political activist Grace Paley, “The Art of Fiction No. 131,” The Paris Review, Fall 1992


     She lived a full and meaningful life, as evidenced by this passage from her New York Times obituary:

A self-described “somewhat combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist,” Ms. Paley was a lifelong advocate of liberal causes. During the Vietnam War, she was jailed several times for antiwar protests; in later years, she lobbied for women’s rights, against nuclear proliferation and, most recently, against the war in Iraq. For decades, she was a familiar presence on lower Sixth Avenue, near her Greenwich Village home, smiling broadly, gum cracking, leaflets in hand.

Here she is, in activist mode:

                                                                                    Photo by Dorothy Marder


And here is a poem that I , a frustrated poet but (somewhat) competent baker,  really appreciate:

The Poet’s Occasional Alternative

I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper

the pie already had a talking
tumbling audience among small
trucks and a fire engine on
the kitchen floor

everybody will like this pie
it will have apples and cranberries
dried apricots in it many friends
will say why in the world did you
make only one

this does not happen with poems

because of unreportable
sadnesses I decided to
settle this morning for a re-
sponsive eatership I do not
want to wait a week a year a
generation for the right
consumer to come along 

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8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Grace Paley – The Poet’s Occasional Alternative

  1. Probably my favorite Grace poem. Makes me think of what Kate Lebo is doing with her poetry and pie work — each sustains the other, and a serving of pie seems to lure even the most reluctant reader to taste a bit of verse.

  2. From one frustrated poet but competent baker to another, thank you for sharing this. I could use this snowy day to hone my poetry-writing skills, but I think I'll bake for my "responsive eatership" instead!

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