Dr. Tom Hunley publishes second edition of The Poetry Gymnasium
- Madeline Kinser
- Monday, November 4th, 2019
The second edition of Dr. Tom Hunley’s book The Poetry Gymnasium has been published, following the first edition which was published in 2012. The new edition features “110 proven [poetry writing] exercises,” sixteen more than the first edition’s ninety-four. The book has five chapters covering invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Each exercise includes an objective, historical background on the subgenre of poetry, and an example written by WKU undergraduate students or American poets such as Billy Collins, Denise Duhamel, and Dean Young.
Dr. Hunley has been teaching poetry writing for years, but found that a lot of the textbooks that he had his students use weren’t helping them accomplish the goals he had in mind for them. Rather than having a poetry exercise be the “afterthought” to the chapter, Dr. Hunley decided to make the exercise the driving force towards understanding the material.
“I wanted to make sure [the exercises] were good, so I use my students as guinea pigs. I wouldn’t put something in the book unless one of my students could write a good poem using it,” said Dr. Hunley. “For each one there’s an objective, so even if you don’t write a good poem doing this, you’ll at least learn this one thing.”
The second edition of The Poetry Gymnasium features many examples of students’ work from Dr. Hunley’s classes. “Whenever I teach an exercise and read the poem, it makes me reminisce about the student,” said Dr. Hunley. “Now for the next ten years, I can say, ‘Well, this person that was here in 2019 has gone on to do X, Y, and Z.’ [It’s also] a great chance for current students to get published.”
Dr. Hunley believes that his book stands out from other poetry textbooks because it uses the exercise to contextualize the information, rather than the other way around. This method supports a student’s reason for studying poetry much more and helps guide them towards their goals as a writer.
“I think that people want to learn about poetry so they can write their own poems. It gives students more confidence when they see that another student was able to take this exercise and come up with something good,” said Dr. Hunley.
The Poetry Gymnasium can be used in the classroom, but it was also written for individual use. Anyone who wants to learn about poetry and write their own poems can pick up a copy and work their way towards being a great writer.