In our last The Poet is In column, you asked us a lot of questions about poetry. After all, we said to just “ask us anything.”
One hundred and thirty-eight comments in the comment-box later, we decided maybe we’d choose just one of those questions to feature here and invite more questions (and our answers).
The Question, from Bethany Rohde
“How do you decide when a poem has crossed into “sentimental” territory? It seems a bit subjective to know when to call it.”
The Initial Answer, from Tania Runyan
“Bethany, that is s tough question. For me, a sentimental poem tries to force the emotion on me–tell me what to feel, I suppose, rather than lead me into sensory language that invites its own emotional response. Think of a greeting card: it must get an emotion across in a direct, brief manner while staying quite general in order to appeal to many readers. There is nothing wrong with that given a card’s purpose, of course, but how many greeting card verses do any of us remember? We remember what we feel, not what we are told to feel.”
Alright, the Poet is in. Ask us anything about sentimental poetry.
Photo by Dustin Gaffke, Creative Commons, via Flickr.
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About One of Our Resident Poets
Tania Runyan has served as an editor for Every Day Poems and is the author of four books of poetry, including A Thousand Vessels and Simple Weight. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, and Southern Poetry Review. She received an NEA Literature fellowship in 2011.