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Unarmed and Dangerous

Paperback
, 192 pages
ISBN:
9780801873768
September 2002
$28.00

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Unarmed and Dangerous

New and Selected Poems

Wyatt Prunty's poems have been described as "quiet, reflective, and of unexpected depth" (Howard Nemerov), "both artful and truthful" (Donald Justice), "a triumph of controlled and understated but powerful emotion" (Anthony Hecht), and "illuminated by a language both skewed and precise" (Walker Percy). As a poet, Prunty—who is also the founder and director of the Sewanee Writers' Conference—has been praised for "his powerful imagination in the specifics of ordinary details, suggesting persuasively that the near at hand is as unexplored and full of wonder as the far ends of the universe" ( Publishers Weekly) and called "one of the most gifted and technically accomplished American poets of the post-World War II generation" ( Southern Review).

An elegant overview of his career until now, Unarmed and DANGEROUS: New and Selected Poems features selections from Wyatt Prunty's five previous books— The Times Between (1982); What Women Know, What Men Believe (1986); Balance as Belief (1989); Run of the House (1993); and Since the Noon Mail Stopped (1997), all published by the Johns Hopkins University Press—as well as new poems that demonstrate the poet's wide-ranging and sympathetic imagination. Prunty's new work includes moving evocations of childhood ("A Child's Christmas in Georgia, 1953"), richly detailed poems about ordinary people and situations ("The Downtown Bus"), and even a probing meditation on the fairy tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" ("Annals of Jack"). Together, the poems gathered in this volume afford a clear portrait of a major American poet whose distinctive voice and vision have earned him the admiration and respect of such contemporaries as Richard Wilbur, X. J. Kennedy, and Mark Strand and marked him as "a writer who has mastered his craft, [a] poet [who] can look at the life most of us take for granted and show us what is most real, most precious in it" ( The Commercial Appeal).

Wyatt Prunty founded and directs the Sewanee Writers' Conference, founded and edits the Sewanee Writers' Series, and teaches in the English department at the University of the South. He has received residencies and fellowships from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Brown Foundations. In addition to his books of poetry, he is the author of Fallen from the Symboled World, a discussion of the New Formalism and contemporary poetry, and editor of Sewanee Writers on Writing. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee.

"There are vast expanses of ordinary fabric, bejeweled by moments of existential clarity... Prunty holds everyday experience up to the light in such a way that it seems anything but. He has an exquisite hold on life."

"There are vast expanses of ordinary fabric, bejeweled by moments of existential clarity... Prunty holds everyday experience up to the light in such a way that it seems anything but. He has an exquisite hold on life."

"A distinct and distinctive voice... best looked at not amongst his peers but in the light of an earlier generation of elegant formalists, from Anthony Hecht, Richard Wilbur, and James Merrill, to the less well-known Edgar Bowers and J. V. Cunningham."

"Frostian stoicism and precise observation of sad American scenes distinguish the poems of Wyatt Prunty, whose careful technique sets him above most of the New Formalist poets who share his tastes."

"Wyatt Prunty's poems give a true sense and picture of American life of the last several decades, especially of life in the South."

"Wyatt Prunty [writes] with wit, with narrative grace, and with modesty. His poems are wise and compassionate. He is a superb poet."

" Unarmed and Dangerous—five earlier books and a batch of new poems—adds up to a solid body of distinctive work."

"Wyatt Prunty is clearly a poet for all seasons."

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