Crunk teaches dreams, possibilities

Published 4:21 pm Monday, May 23, 2011

Tony Crunk teaches creative writing to Mrs. Miller’s seventh grade reading class at CMS. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

The creative juices of budding authors have been flowing at Columbiana Middle School.

Tony Crunk, highly acclaimed poet and children’s author, has been teaching creative writing to Mrs. Maite Miller’s seventh grade reading classes, made possible by the Shelby County Arts Council working in conjunction with the Alabama Writer’s Forum, a partnership program of the Alabama State Council of the Arts.

Crunk has written five poetry collections and four children’s books. His first collection of poetry, “Living in the Resurrection,” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize in 1994.

At CMS, Crunk began teaching writing in stages: first a poem; second a story; and last a story with dialogue. He taught the students the three characteristics of a story: characters, setting and plot. Each student has a blue folder in which his work is kept. Crunk keeps the folders and the students only work in class. He is more interested in the creative thought process than in the grammatical perfection of the students’ work.

To challenge the students’ imagination, he gives them sentences to begin their stories.

“I remember a time when someone did something nice for me… ”

“I laugh out loud when I remember…”

As the students write, Crunk goes by each, offering suggestions and help, quietly encouraging and critiquing their work. Each student receives personal mentoring. Then the students share their work by reading it to the class.

“I am more focused on content, developing writing skills and creativity,” Crunk said. “I want the students to be more open and comfortable with their writing skills. For me, it is a fulfilling process to spark and inspire a student’s mind.”

Crunk is collecting the stories and having an anthology published of the students work. Student Dillon Hallman came up with the title of the upcoming book, “Dreams and Possibilities.”

The book launch of “Dreams and Possibilities” will be Wednesday, May 25, at the CMS library at 8:30 a.m. Crunk, Miller and the student authors will welcome their parents and guests as their book is debuted. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited to share in CMS’s dreams and possibilities.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by email at

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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