Julia Alvarez’s poem “On Not Shoplifting…” describes a young woman posed with a vexing decision after discovering a new author, and a new part of herself. After taking a glance into Louise Bogan’s “The Blue Estuaries,” she is moved by the words inside and wishes to continue being inspired. However, the only way she could have the book is by stealing it. Julia Alvarez uses repetition, imagery and selection of detail to describe the speaker’s discoveries. The first stanza of the poem is filled with repetition. Since this is a dramatic monologue, the speaker inadvertently reveals subconscious feelings. In the third line the speaker reveals what she used to believe poetry was all about. The line “no blurbs by the big boys on the back” shows that she has a new found respect for this poet because the author made the book just about the poetry, not the outside influences of critics or a desire for fame. The use of alliteration helps the line to stand out. Also, repeating the letter “b” specifically brings on a slightly negative and cynical connotation. This negativity is directed towards the poets who are the epitome of poetry, but are so outwardly influenced and do not care about the true art of poetry. This is connected to line 20 where she lists of “Chaucer-Milton-Shakespeare-Yeats” and calls them boys. By calling them boys she is degrading their elite status as the biggest and best poets. This feeds into her past mindset that poetry is shallow and for males only. Farther down in the stanza she admires the Bogan’s originality and self discovery. She says “no mentors musing over how they had discovered you had it in you before you even knew you had it in you”(6). This repetition of the word you emphasises the importance of an individual voice in poetry, while also revealing an underlying sarcastic tone. This line parallels how the speaker discover herself with the help of Louise Bogan, not mentors. The speaker starts her poetic awakening on stanza three when louise Bogan’s “poems/ were stirring her own poems” (19-20). The imagery of poems stirring poems creates the sense of just how much the poetry has affected her. The speaker did not suddenly become a poet because she read Bogan’s poems; the poems awakened the poet inside of her. When Alvarez writes, “I leaned closer to the print until I could almost feel the blue waters drawn into the tip of my pen,” the reader can almost feel the impact the poetry has on the speaker (27-30). Alvarez surrounds the speaker’s moment of discovery of her poetic voice with visual, auditory and tactile imagery to give the reader an emotional experience and connection to the speaker. The reader feels the intense connection the speaker now has to this book and therefore better understands her dilemma in the next stanza. In the last two stanzas, Alvarez carefully choses details to enhance and emphasize the speaker’s internal conflict. It starts with a series of short separated thoughts in lines 29 and 30. This short and choppy syntax mirrors the speaker’s thought process. Her mind is racing, weighing her options and the outcomes. After contemplating stealing the book, she makes her decision. When the speaker holds the book to herself, almost as if she is about to take it, she sees a reflection of herself. Choosing to use the book as a mirror, Alvarez reveals the speaker’s deeper discovery of becoming a better person. This selection of detail proves the power of poetry for the speaker. As she stood with the book, struggling to make a decision, the swans on the cover of the book answer her internal question. In line forty Alvarez wrote “the swans dipped their alphabet necks.” By giving the swans necks made of letters, she shows how it was really the words inside the book that allowed the speaker to discover her morals. The poetry showed her who she really wants to be as a person. She knows that taking the book will help her continue down her path of discoveries in poetry, but at the end she would discover that she was a thief if she took it. Alvarez conveyed the strength poetry has to change a person. Julia Alvarez brought the readers to a college bookstore to see a student make three new discoveries through her use of specific repetition, vivid imagery and selection of detail. The speaker discover genuine poetry as compared to the status quo, her own poetic voice and her morals.