”Acceptance Speech” by Lynn Powell
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The poem Acceptance Speech by Lynn Powell is about a housewife who feels undervalued by her family and by society. The title of the poem suggests that the character has received an award for achieving something brilliant, but in fact she is being sarcastic and conducting an imaginary award ceremony for herself in her kitchen, since no one else is willing to appreciate her hard work. The poet uses irony and personification of kitchen utensils and ingredients to add humour to the play. She uses the In this poem, the character deals with her desire to be appreciated by propelling herself into an imaginary scenario in her kitchen where she is in the spotlight and humorously personifies ingredients in food who are just as under appreciated as her.
The character can be clearly identified as a housewife in the second stanza, where it is revealed that she has a “husband” and “children”. It is common that housewives are taken for granted, despite the enormous amount of work they put in to keep the household running efficiently. This housewife, in particular, is fed up of being underappreciated. She refers to her role as housewife as a “starring role”, which is clearly sarcastic After hearing “last night’s” award ceremony on the radio, the housewife decided to parody the acceptance speeches and gives thanks to “everybody for making everything so possible” in her difficult life. Since no one else is willing to applaud her, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She metaphorically places herself atop the “cluttered podium of the sink” and commences her acceptance speech. As all other acceptance speeches, she gives thanks to her family first and foremost in the second stanza, but this is brief but this is revealed to be sarcastic in the third stanza, as they clearly did not help her make “this soup.”
The real ‘co-stars’ are revealed to be the ingredients and kitchen utensils, such as the “tomatoes”, “oregano” and last but not least, “the salt.” The personification of these ingredients suggests a sense of loneliness in the housewife, who’s only real friends in the household are food items. In contrast to her children, who simply “growl” at her when they are hungry, the ingredients in the kitchen actually assist her in making the “soup.” The “salt” is particularly important, as we only notice it when it is absent from food rather than when it is present. When it is not in the food, its omission is strongly reflected in the taste of the food. Hence, it is taken for granted. Similarly, this housewife is criminally underappreciated and if she was not around, her family would instantly feel her absence from the household. She also compares herself to “the celery and the parsnip”, who are regularly “forgotten” and seen as “bit players.”
The housewife knows “exactly” this feeling, as she is similarly overlooked and seen as playing a more minor role in the household than the man, who is traditionally the breadwinner. Overall, although the poem is essentially a parody and uses plenty of humour, there is an overbearing feeling of underappreciation, loneliness and frustration towards her family on the part of the speaker. While at the beginning of the poem the speaker’s tone is mocking towards her family for having many expectations of her yet taking her for granted, at the end of the poem there is a sense of isolation, as the only “applause” she gets is the “blue” flame of the stove.
The structure is key to adding humour to this poem. For example, after the words “starring role” at the end of the second stanza, the reader expects something grand. There is a sense of suspension created by the space between the two stanza. However, the fact that the “starring role” is to make “soup” is completely unexpected and humorous. Humour is used her by the poet to illustrate that although making food for the family in the kitchen is not the most glamorous job, it deserves to be acknowledgement and appreciation as it requires hard work and is essential for a household to function.
The structure also helps to emphasise that this poem is a parody of an acceptance speech. While in actual acceptance speeches, the speakers always give special thanks in particular to their family members, the speaker is this poem spares only one stanza of four lines to discuss thank her family, while in the majority of the rest of the poem she gives special thanks to ingredients such as “tomatoes”, “oregano” and “the salt.” This is humorous because the speaker finds these personified kitchen ingredients to be more worthy of recognition than her family in her acceptance speech, as they have been more supportive of her than her family. Again, this highlights that she feels undervalued.
Overall, this poem discusses how society fails to appreciate people for their hard work and simply take them for granted. This doesn’t only pertain to housewives, but the vast group of people who take on the lesser wanted jobs. This is a huge flaw in our society. The lack of appreciation often leads to a feeling of loneliness, as in the case of the speaker of this poem, whose closest friends seem to be the ingredients in her soup.