The Poetry Gymnasium

94 Proven Exercises to Shape Your Best Verse


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About the Book

This book contains ninety-four exercises designed to inspire creativity and help poets hone their skills. Each exercise includes a clearly-stated learning objective, historical background matter on the particular subgenre being explored, and an example written by students at Western Kentucky University. The text also contains model poems by leading American poets including Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Denise Duhamel, and Dean Young. The book’s five chapters correspond with the five canons of classical rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Tom C. Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA creative writing programs at Western Kentucky University. His work has appeared in many literary periodicals, such as TriQuarterly, Five Points, North American Review and New York Quarterly. He is the author of several poetry collections and lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

Tom C. Hunley

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 266
Bibliographic Info: index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6514-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8835-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

I. Invention Exercises      5
II. Arrangement Exercises      79
III. Style Exercises      137
IV. Memory Exercises      198
V. Delivery Exercises      217

Copyright Acknowledgments      245
Index      247

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Provides nearly one hundred practice lessons for improving all aspects of poetry and poetic prose”—Reference & Research Book News
  • “This is the book that should be in every workshop.”—Richard Jackson, University of Tennessee–Chattanooga, author of Resonance and Unauthorized Autobiography
  • “If you’re a writing teacher, you’ll find yourself itching to use the exercises. If you’re a student reading The Poetry Gymnasium: 94 Proven Exercises to Shape Your Best Verse, you’ll be lamenting, ‘Man, why wasn’t I in that class?’ Hunley makes teaching one continuous act of invention for both the student and the instructor.”—Alexandria Peary, Salem State University
  • The Poetry Gymnasium: 94 Proven Exercises to Shape Your Best Verse is the complete workout! While it can help poets create new work in a variety of aesthetics and modes—New Formalism and Language poetry, Imagism and Ultra-Talk—anyone who trains with the The Poetry Gymnasium: 94 Proven Exercises to Shape Your Best Verse certainly will make poems that are beautiful, powerful, and energetic.”—Michael Theune, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • “Finally, there’s a text that merges theory and practicality and helps students build, strengthen, and tone their poetry muscles.”—Emari DiGiorgio, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey