Teaching Poetry Writing A Five-Canon Approach Author: Tom Hunley

Paperback - 208 pages
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17 May 2007
New Writing Viewpoints
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five Canon Approach is a comprehensive alternative to the full-class workshop approach to poetry writing instruction. In the five canon approach, peer critique of student poems takes place in online environments, freeing up class time for writing exercises and lessons based on the five canons of classical rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.


Tom Hunley’s Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach is one of the most inventive and exciting poetry writing handbooks I have ever read. Combining the ancient rhetorical tradition with contemporary literature and technology, Hunley shows us how the teaching of poetry writing can be systematic and imaginative, grounded in the literary past and innovative, pedagogically tough-minded and fun. For its thoroughness, its clear and vigorous prose, its engaging wit, and groundbreaking recommendations, I would recommend this book and the approach it advocates to any teacher of creative writing at any level, undergraduate or graduate.”

- Alan Shapiro is a Professor at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the author of In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination

Tom Hunley's Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach is not only thorough and intelligent but also a pleasure to read. Hunley uses classical rhetoric as his starting point, but the book, which contains insightful discussions of online conferencing and poetry slams, is hardly mired in the past. Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach demands the very best from both instructors and students, but isn't that what we should have been expecting all along?

- David Starkey, co-author (with Wendy Bishop) of Keywords in Creative Writing

For several years now I have been contemplating what a rhetoric of poetry would look like and whether such a beast would be at all useful to teachers of creative writing. Tom C. Hunley’s Teaching Poetry Writing: A Five-Canon Approach explores exactly that possibility—how rhetorical principles may help us as poets and teachers of young poets—and renders results I highly recommend experienced teachers of writing and new writers consider as they develop an orientation to poetry. There is a rhetoric of poetry and it is a terrible shame that academic taboos have until now prevented us from developing one. I highly recommend Hunley’s book because it does what must be done right now by breaking barriers that have long separated the poetic from the rhetoric, barriers he proves are artificial at best.

- Patrick Bizzaro, a Professor at East Carolina University and the author of Responding to Student Poems.

Author Biography:

Tom C. Hunley is an assistant professor of English at Western Kentucky University and the director of Steel Toe Books (www.steeltoebooks.com). He received degrees from University of Washington (BA), Eastern Washington University (MFA), and Florida State University (Ph.D.). He has published hundreds of poems in literary journals such as TriQuarterly, Poetry East, Rattle, Connecticut Review, Exquisite Corpse, and Cimarron Review. His books of poetry include The Tongue (Wind Publications 2004); Still, Thereā??s a Glimmer (WordTech Editions 2004); and My Life as a Minor Character (Pecan Grove Press 2005).

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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