NEA Literature Fellowships

Tania Runyan

Back to NEA Literature Fellowships
(2011 - Poetry)

The Goldfish Pond

I like the dead one best,
my daughter says,

and follows a corpse
the length of her smallest finger
around the edge of the pond.

Among the water lilies
a dozen fish flicker and spark.
Look how pretty, I say.

But she is lost now,
bending so low
her nose almost touches
the scales.

He keeps looking at me.
I love him.

And she reaches into her face.

(First appeared in Indiana Review, 2007)

Tania Runyan's poems have appeared in dozens of publications, such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, Indiana Review, The Christian Century, Willow Springs, Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, and A Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare. Her chapbook, Delicious Air, was awarded the 2007 Book of the Year Citation by the Conference on Christianity and Literature. Her first full-length collection, Simple Weight, was released by FutureCycle Press as a book prize finalist in 2010, and her second collection will be published by WordFarm in 2011. When not writing, Tania spends her days tutoring high school students, playing Irish fiddle and mandolin, and chasing three kids around the house. Find Tania online at

Photo by Hannah White

Author's Statement

As a stay-at-home mother of three young kids, I have somehow managed to keep my poetry afloat, usually writing in hazy, ten-minute increments in the early morning before those footsteps come down the stairs. The NEA grant will afford me the means to hire high-quality childcare for several hours a week so I can have regular, sustained periods of writing. My current book project, a collection of poems based on the writings of St. Paul, demands careful reading, research, and meditation. These times of solitude will be invaluable to my work, and, I suspect, will help me greet those early-morning footsteps with a little more energy and inspiration!