Words That Stick: The Poetry of Tania Runyan

Article and image by Bethany Rohde

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m delighted to highlight one of my favorite poets, Tania Runyan. What I’ve read of her work has been gripping and stuck with me.

Runyan was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2011. She’s published four books of poetry. Her poems have also appeared in many publications, such as Poetry, as well as in The Christian Century, where you can read poems like, “There was silence in heaven for half an hour.” (Writers, in particular, might enjoy that one.)

Through T.S. Poetry Press, she’s also published two friendly instructive books which I wish I’d read in high school (college would have been a little easier, and poetry more enjoyable at a younger age). They are: How to Read a Poem, and How to Write a Poem — [Both] based on the Billy Collins Poem “Introduction to Poetry”: (Field Guide Series). She also writes relatable, magnetic prose for Image Journal‘s blog, Good Letters.

Why am I drawn to Tania Runyan’s poetry?

  • She finds fresh ways to use images I’m familiar with. This includes everyday, household objects. This helps me more quickly visualize and absorb the poem-world.
  • Her language is delectable but accessible. As much as I love learning new words, I also enjoy not hiccupping over to the dictionary at every stanza break.
  • The subjects of her poems set in biblical times are made touchable. I’m captivated watching “Ananias of Damascus” respond to Saul.
  • Her poems ring true as the speakers in them react honestly and quite personally to things like grieving, as seen in her piece “For they shall be comforted,” or to verses in the Bible, like in “The great throne” poem.
  • Her speakers’ perspectives are unique. Although the poems are relatable, the expression and takeaways are not canned. They’re often something completely unique from what I would’ve thought or written. For a moment it’s like I’m looking through someone else’s corneas.

Tania Runyan’s smart and lush writing has been a gift and inspiration to me. What she’s conveyed through her poetry about beautiful, curious, and painful moments of life makes my eyes open a little wider. She’s shown me afresh what a poem can do.

[All of the poem links in the above bulleted section are from The Christian Century’s website.]


Bethany Rohde enjoys writing rough drafts on crisp, college-ruled paper outdoors by her lavender hedge. Some of her final drafts have found a home at Tweetspeak Poetry’s Every Day Poems, Makes You Mom, and Mothers Always Write. You can find Bethany on her blog here.


2 thoughts on “Words That Stick: The Poetry of Tania Runyan

  1. Lisa Taylor Phillips says:

    Bethany, Thank you for sharing Tania’s wonderful work in such an inviting way. “Her language is delectable but accessible.” So true.

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