Rachel Zucker | Terribly Sentimental
(page 5)

5. Digression: I have a student who was writing these language driven poems that were smart and evocative but not "meaningful" and didn't move me. I made my students write about the thing they were most afraid to write and she wrote this very spare, narrative poem. She read the poem and we all just sat there in silence because it was so different from her other poems. She said, "I've never written about my father's death—he died during the night when I was 8 years old. I've never written about it even though my whole life changed then. I just figured it was too sentimental. Is it? Is it terribly sentimental?" I wrote the phrase "terribly sentimental" in my notebook as I formulated a response. I didn't want to praise her too much for fear of sounding like I only liked narrative poetry (I don't), but it was a terrific poem. Also I was shocked that she'd never written about this pivotal event before. It’s not like she had this experience and decided to become an accountant and repress all emotion (of course not all accountants repress their emotions). But, seriously, this is a POET. She’s in a graduate MFA program in POETRY. And she’d never written about this before? Something seems terribly wrong with this.

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