Paperback / softback
December 30, 2014
9781421417141
English
72
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
.25 Pounds (US)
.25 Pounds (US)
$18.95 USD, £14.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
February 18, 2015
9781421417158
English
72
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$18.95 USD, £14.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Couldn't Prove, Had to Promise

In Couldn't Prove, Had to Promise, Wyatt Prunty ushers readers into a seesaw world, one that teeters between small fables of childish misgivings and adult assurances. Alternately shadowed and illuminated by nostalgia, this deft, witty volume brings together seventeen of Prunty's recent poems, seven of which have been previously published in Poetry, the Hopkins Review, the Kenyon Review, and Blackbird.

In "Crescent Theater, Schenectady, NY," a silent-movie accompanist reads his foreign newspaper after work as he listens, ever the outsider, "to his children using English / For everything they wish." In "Rules," a small girl, told she can't go to the school nurse "every time some bad thing happens," plaintively wonders, "Where do you go?" And in "Making Frankenstein," a boy who has cajoled his parents into letting him see The Curse of Frankenstein wakes to a nightmare. His father bans horror films as "too anatomical"; "What's anatomical?" the boy wonders. Given a book that catalogs diseases, the worst of which come "from intimate contact," he is horrified by his father's explanation of grownup intimacy: "That's how you made your way into this world."

Moving from a wry portrait of a husband—musing on mortality—whose Christmas tie lands in the gravy, to "Reading the Map," which grapples with the cartography of love, to "ad lib," a farewell that redefines farewell, these poems burnish the small triumphs and fears that fill our daily lives with humor and pathos. The book closes with a long, four-part poem, "Nod," which transports readers to a parking lot in July: an asphalt-as-inferno where Cain the cracker, or adversary-as-initiator, the pleuritic voice of disappointment, names the ways inversion makes a lie reliable and works people best as, like a joke or discount price, "It makes you feel you're getting more by giving less." Funny, raw, and colorfully musical, "Nod" plays what teeters, like a tuning fork.

About the Author

Wyatt Prunty is a professor of English at Sewanee: The University of the South and the founding director of the Sewanee Writers' Conference. He is the author of nine collections of poems, including The Lover's Guide to Trapping, and two critical works.

Reviews

"In these intimate confessions of—as the jacket says—'childish misgivings and adult assurances,' Wyatt Prunty brings a grace and dignity to the speaking voice, as well as ironical humour in the case of the adult assurances."—Times Literary Supplement

"Wyatt Prunty is a classic poet in the tradition of Frost, Wilbur, Merrill, and Justice. His work involves a wry sanity toward the world and an impeccable ear for both prosody and the rhythms of American speech. Couldn't Prove, Had to Promise features his breakout Dantesque poem, 'Nod,' about an encounter with a lost soul in the parking lot of an Atlanta shopping mall around the 4th of July. Its unnerving pleasures are inseparable from Prunty's ear for language. There's a connection between that perfect fit of language to meter and the sense of necessity and brutality in the world described. The effect is both comic and terrible, and makes you know you are in the hands of a master."—Robert Hass

"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."—New York Times Book Review, reviewing a previous edition or volume

"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."—Times Literary Supplement, reviewing a previous edition or volume

"Some poets write in a plain style and do it well. Wyatt Prunty does it even better—with wit, with narrative grace, and with modesty. His poems are wise and compassionate. He is a superb poet."—Mark Strand, author of Man and Camel, reviewing a previous edition or volume

The Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction

9781421417141 : couldnt-prove-had-to-promise-prunty
Paperback / softback
72 Pages
$18.95 USD
9781421417158 : couldnt-prove-had-to-promise-prunty
Electronic book text
72 Pages
$18.95 USD

Other Titles by Wyatt Prunty

Unarmed and Dangerous

Wyatt Prunty
Sep 2002 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$28.00 USD - Paperback / softback

The Run of the House

Wyatt Prunty
May 1993 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$22.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles from Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction

Water / Music

poems by Peter Filkins
Apr 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text

Fabrications

Pamela Painter
Nov 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$21.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$21.95 USD - Electronic book text

Deep Gossip

Sidney Wade
Apr 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in POETRY / American / General

Now It's Dark

Peter Gizzi
Dec 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Post Romantic

Kathleen Flenniken
Oct 2020 - University of Washington Press
$19.95 USD - Hardback

Xicancuicatl

Alfred Arteaga
Oct 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$65.00 USD - Hardback
$19.99 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in Poetry by individual poets

Asked What Has Changed

Ed Roberson
Mar 2021 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback

Now It's Dark

Peter Gizzi
Dec 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Xicancuicatl

Alfred Arteaga
Oct 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$65.00 USD - Hardback
$19.99 USD - Electronic book text