Wyatt Prunty was born in 1947 in Humbolt, Tennessee and raised in Athens,
Georgia. He received a B.A. degree in 1969 from the University of the South where he studied with Allen Tate. After serving for three years in the Navy, he attended the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins and received a Master's 1973,
followed by a Ph.D. from Louisiana State in 1979.
is the author of eight books of poetry:The Lover's Guide to Trapping (2009), Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems (2000), Since
the Noon Mail Stopped (1997), The Run of the House (1993), Balance
as Belief (1989), What Women Know, What Men Believe (1986), and
The Times Between (1982), all published
by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
does not write exclusively in form or meter, Prunty is often associated with the New Formalism movement which seeks to revive traditional forms of verse. His poems frequently examine the concerns and experiences of
daily life, addressing family and work with deep clarity. In a review of Unarmed and Dangerous in the New
York Times Book Review, Melaine Rehak writes: "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."
About his work, Donald Justice has said: "People a century hence will be able to look back through the lens of these poems and see what it was to live
in our time—to live, that is, in the center of the culture and not at its edges, where the grotesque and bizarre have
tended to clutter, especially in the literature of the South. No, these poems are different. They are, you might say, exaltations
of the ordinary, if we may understand the ordinary as, after all, one of the great and enduring subjects. I should add that
some of the poems are very funny, too."
Prunty is also the author of a critical
work on contemporary poetry, "Fallen from the Symboled World": Precedents for the New Formalism (Oxford
University Press, 1990), and the editor of a collection of essays, Sewanee Writers on Writing (Louisiana
State University Press, 2000). His grants and honors include fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation,
Johns Hopkins, and the Brown Foundation. Prunty is the founding director of the Sewanee Writers'
Conference and holds the Carlton Chair in poetry at Sewanee: the University of the South. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins
Writing Seminars, Louisiana State University, Washington and Lee University, and Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English
and Writers' Conference. He is the general editor of the Sewanee Writers' Series and director of the Tennessee Williams Fellowship