The Tao of Twang (CW Books, 2014)

The earliest poems in what became The Tao of Twang were written for what I imagined would be “The Blue Collar Poetry Tour.”  It is easy to use the formulaic You might be a Redneck if. . . to mock (and dismiss) people who are rural and small town, working class, and white (Oh, Bubba, you are, it seems the one derogatory stereotype we can still glibly deploy without a twinge of political guilt or shame).  And just as easy as it is to mock Bubba and his kin, they can invert this same formula to mock back.  So while these moves can offer a laugh or two, they too quickly become reductive, mean spirited, dismissive, playing into the social and political divisiveness that has intensified since this collection was published.

Whatever Bubba may be, he’s more than a cowboy hat and beer belly, more than a six pack and rusty pickup, more than even that MAGA hat he took to wearing in 2016, failing to realize that Donnie T. was playing him like a drum.  And so the book became, instead, a kind of meditation on what might be termed the ethos of twang.  In that turn, the poems became, it seems, less certain about matters of class and region, but perhaps more useful.

Clicking this link [link!] will mosey you on over to the web page at CW Books with sample poems from the collection: “Another Way,” “Hearing is Believing,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “Still Life with Ash Tray and Beer Can,” and “Class Party.”  Alas, the samples don’t include “Why Redneck Western Poets Write the Way We Do.”  The collection does or you can click here to navigate to reading of the poem.

Clicking the thumbnail to the left (and thanks to John Hunt, cover designer extraordinaire, for the great design) will take you to the CW Books page with links for ordering The Tao of Twang.

Sharon Doubiago’s Foreword to The Tao of Twang


With care and honesty Tim Hunt’s The Tao of Twang covers a lot of territory, from raw youth to rolling total old.  Bakersfield to Nashville; all the E string pit stops in between and Hunt even supplies some imaginary heavens of those perfect gigs. – Keith Abbott

At one point in The Tao of Twang, the reader is encouraged to “Make the poem / Of what isn’t there.” Having navigated this fresh and fun-filled collection, however, I am struck by what is there: hunters sitting zazen in deer stands, stars that sing like violins, and bygone beer cans that still require a church key to unlock. I hear echoes of Richard Hugo in the hardscrabble heart that animates these poems and some of the places and people they celebrate, like the logger who stirs his cup of coffee with a calloused thumb. What I value most in Tim Hunt’s poems, though, is their celebration of seemingly “routine paraphernalia,” the energy and ability to find lyric beauty in even the most fleeting phemonena: the vacuum / Tube, glowing / Against the bar’s / Darkened wall . . .” – Brett Eugene Ralph

Indirectly, delightfully, his poems put the Holy Writ of academia’s canon under the same lens as it puts the culture of his roots. . . . Hilarious, thought-provoking, deeply philosophical, sometimes almost transhuman, to use Jeffers word, in the mix of subject and form from two different/almost at-war cultures, and with the help of his fantastic ear, you will know the Tao of twang. You will know why redneck Western poets write the way we do. And you will newly ponder, again, our aesthetic assumptions. – Sharon Doubiago


Review from Amazon:

Not long ago I raved about Tim Hunt’s poetry book Fault Lines. Hunt connected his cool northern California background with his current southern Illinois prairie state of mind.

His new collection, The Tao of Twang, presents an oxymoronic question: how does the essence of Chinese wisdom infuse country music? Hunt answers this question in a sequence of funny, satiric poems featuring a character, T. Texas Twiddle, Hunt’s version of Berryman’s Henry in The Dream Songs.

My favorite poems are more straightforward. “Still Life with Ash Tray and Beer Can” sets forth an esthetic that could derive from the Ash Can School of Painting. “Depending: Three Side Yard Scenes on a Borrowed Image” lends Williams’s canonical lines a frisson of the noir:

the rusted

red from

the rain, the
feathers slick

in her hand,
the bright

pulse spattering
the weeds.

Sample Poems