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WKU's Hunley Puts Words at the "Forefront", Releases New Collection of Poems

Kevin Willis

Tom Hunley is out with a new collection of poems entitled Scotch Tape World. The associate professor of English at WKU was nice enough to stop by our studios Thursday to talk about what it’s like to get poetry published these days, why he chose poetry in the first place, and the inspiration behind Scotch Tape World.

Here are some excerpts from our interview:

Scotch Tape World was published as a chapbook. What is that, exactly?

"A chapbook is a sort of intermediary step for poets between publishing poems in journals and publishing a full-length book. So they're made in smaller print runs, and sometimes they're handmade."

What is it like trying to get poetry published in the year 2013?

"It's pretty difficult to get full-length books printed, in particular. Usually you have to enter contests that have reading fees. There's no such thing as an agent in poetry. You're your own agent."

Those of us who aren’t writers often have a romantic notion of authors, poets, or composers walking along and seeing or hearing something that causes a mad flash of inspiration…causing him or her to race to put words or notes down on paper. Do you have those kinds of moments? And do you also have a disciplined routine where you set aside a certain amount of time to work at your craft?

"I do sometime experience moments where I feel like I'm inside some kind of trance...a kind of divine frenzy. But mostly I sit down with no idea of what I'm going to do, and I work hard. And I feel like the occasional poems that are just kind of inspired are rewards for the hard work I do."

What’s the inspiration behind the title Scotch Tape World?

"I have a son who is obsessed with Holiday World--he's ridden all of the roller coasters, and he carries a map around and he knows every square foot of Holiday World."

"I got to thinking: what if there was a theme park that was sort of the antithesis of Disney or Holiday World, where everything is held together by scotch tape, and everything is falling apart? And you take your kids there to teach them what the world is really like. It's my sick sense of humor, really.

You could have conveyed your thoughts and ideas through short stories, novels, or other literary techniques. For you, why poetry?

"I think if you're interested in being a writer you need to take a look at what your own obsessions are, and what you're most interested in. And I think if you're most interested in people and figuring out how they work, then you probably want to write literary fiction, because it's all about characterization. If you're most interested in memories, and trying to understand things that happen in your life, then probably creative non-fiction is your area."

"But if you want words to be at the forefront, if you're most interested in language, if you care about choosing the right word more than choosing the right friends, then poetry is right for you."

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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