Poet presents collections to students

Tony Crunk, award-winning poet and author, discussed the Land Between the Lakes region and how its creation affected early 20th-century river-basin residents || Nate Brelsford/The News

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

Students, faculty and community members gathered at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery to hear Tony Crunk, published author and award winning poet, read from his work on Oct. 20.

Crunk was the 2011-2012 featured author in the Murray State University Jesse Stuart Kentucky Writer Series.

Crunk is originally from Hopkinsville, Ky. and still has family there.

In 1994 Crunk was the recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize for his collection of poetry, “Living in the Resurrection”.

He has since published four additional poetry collections. Crunk’s latest work is “New Covenant Bound”, which discusses the displacement of families during the creation of Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Western Kentucky.

In the book, Crunk, notes how 20,000 people were forced to leave their homes, farmland and townships to make room for the lakes beginning in 1938.

Between 1998 and 1999 Crunk spent time in Murray researching information for “New Covenant Bound”.

Information on the development of the lakes can be found in the local collections section of Pogue Library.

“I grew up in Hopkinsville and heard all my life what went on with the lakes,” Crunk said.” I just thought it was an interesting story that wasn’t talked about a lot. I got to know people who actually experienced that and shared their stories with me. I felt compelled to write this story.”

Crunk has also published three children’s books “Grandpa’s Overalls”, “Big Mama” and “Railroad John and the Red Rock Run”.

Crunk animatedly read from “New Covenant Bound”, “Living in the Resurrection” and “Grandpa’s Overalls” at the series.

Tom Via, sophomore from Mayfield, Ky., said Crunk’s reading from New Covenant Bound made him think about the lakes in a different way.

“It will make me realize what is really underneath the water,” Via said, regarding the Kentucky lake region.

Via said before the writer’s series he had not read any of Crunk’s work.

“The reading made me go and buy his book,” he said.

He said Crunk has a unique style of writing.

“I’m very interested in history,” he said. “I like how he combines history and poetry in his writing.”

Crunk said he was inspired at a young age to become a writer.

“I didn’t know any better,” Crunk said. “I had good English teachers in school who encouraged me. Reading made me a good writer.”

Crunk said T.S. Elliot was an author who influenced him.

Crunk had some advice for students who want to become writers one day.

“Find someone to guide you,” he said. “Having a good teacher- you can’t do any better than that. Read everything you can, and above all love your life.”

He said coming back to Murray is like a homecoming.

“I spent time teaching here and made some excellent friendships here,” he said. “People here are so nice and great supporters.”

Crunk has taught at a number of other universities and community arts programs including University of Virginia, University of Montana, James Madison University and the National Writer’s Voice center.

Contact Medovich