Adjusting to the Lights




Tom C. Hunley

« Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner »

Cover of Adjusting to the Lights, a dark movie theater with the title on a bright white screenIn Adjusting to the Lights, Tom C. Hunley explores his relationship with his two special needs children: a daughter adopted out of foster care as a teenager, who has borderline intelligence and whose life choices are heavily influenced by her past abuse and neglect; and a son who has autism and continues to be a mystery and an inspiration to his father. Hunley’s struggle to parent his children is our struggle to relate to those among us who are different and discounted by society. Poems express his joy, frustration, fear, pain and triumph in parenting, and also the ways that Hunley falls short and becomes broken himself as shown through the cracked mirror of these children. Poems from Adjusting to the Lights previously appeared in Crazyhorse, Michigan Quarterly Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Waxwing, and several other literary journals.


Praise for Adjusting to the Lights

Hunley’s recent poems about his kids keep blowing me away. The movement and rhythm is so perfect. Some of the best poems I’ve been reading. Seriously, more of his poems get to me than just about anyone’s. He does so much of what I keep trying to do, and lately I like his better and that’s pissing me off.
—Tony Gloeggler, author of Until the Last Light Leaves

Breathtaking. These poems are so sharp and tragic. Truly stunning work. So raw and real. Lovely and dark and everything poems should be.
—Whitnee Pearce, author of Kitsukuroi

Incredibly powerful and skillful poems. The best of them are vulnerable, sincere, compassionate, self-deprecating, insightful, and full of humility. I love the big, and important, issues these poems explore. The theme of father/daughter is very moving, important and I have not read many male poets writing about this.
—Chrys Tobey, author of a woman is a woman is a woman

Sample Poems

• “Remember Those Girls, Lord” in Waxwing (as “Prayer Asking For Patience and Compassion”)
• “The Last Time I Took My Son to the Movies” in Crazyhorse
• “I Never Pushed My Daughter” in Rattle (online)

Other Poems by Tom C. Hunley

Three Poems in The American Journal of Poetry
Four Poems in Split Lip Magazine
Five Poems in Diode

About the Author

Photo of Tom C. Hunley by Bryan LemonTom C. Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA Creative Writing programs at Western Kentucky University, where he has taught since 2003. He is the author of seven chapbooks and seven full-length poetry collections, including Here Lies (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018) and What Feels Like Love: New and Selected Poems, forthcoming from C&R Press in March 2021. He is the co-editor, with Alexandria Peary, of Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press 2015). He and his wife, Ralaina, have been married since 1996. They have raised four children, two of whom provided the material for this book.


Cover art by Jake Hills

ISBN: 978-1-931307-46-8
Cover price: $6.00
Chapbook: 40 pages
Size: 6″ x 9″