Ron Padgett is one of the funniest poets alive. Lest you dismiss “funny” as an attribute of fine poetry, consider these words by Charles Simic: "Reading Padgett one realizes that playfulness and lightness of touch are not at odds with seriousness ... As is often the case, leave it to the comic writer to best convey our tragic predicament."
For the first time, the Robert Creeley Award goes to a writer who consistently delivers wry, devilishly delightful (just look at those eyes!) free verse. Ron’s the real thing. Not that he’s sardonic, biting or lacks tenderness: he often reaches us with minor, but touching truths:
Ron Padgett selected the following books to be added to the Acton Memorial Library’s collection. Each has a signed bookplate.
The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, Ted Berrigan My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles, Jane Bowles The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, Joe Brainard Complete Poems, Blaise Cendrars Dance Writings and Poetry, Edwin Denby A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube, Patrick Leigh Fermor Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Johan Huizinga The Autumn of the Middle Ages, Johan Huizinga The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch, Kenneth Koch Living Things: Collected Poems, Anne Porter Art in Its Own Terms: Selected Criticism, 1935-1975, Fairfield Porter A Glass of Blessings: A Novel, Barbara Pym Excellent Women, Barbara Pym Quartet in Autumn, Barbara Pym
Some of his poems are wake-up calls and others revelations of things we know, but duck. Critics used to say that poets bring us the news. Padgett just opens the curtain…oh, yeah.
Ron was finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, a New Yorker known as “The Tulsa Kid,” where as a high-school student he founded the avant-garde literary journal The White Dove Review, which published such noted poets as Allen Ginsberg and our own Robert Creeley! Still in his teens, Padgett took off for the big city, attended Columbia College and fell in with Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, two approving mentors.
His many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a poetry award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Shelley Memorial Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and his work has been translated into eighteen languages.
Critics have tried to squeeze Ron into The New York School slot, which he emphatically rejects, citing his formative influences as Cole Porter, Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Arthur Rimbaud, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Kenneth Patchen, Langston Hughes, E. E. Cummings, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, early Amiri Baraka, Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Alexander Pope, and Tu Fu. The Tulsa Kid did a bit of reading.
Inaction of Shoes
There are many things to be done today
and it’s a lovely day to do them in
Each thing a joy to do
and a joy to have done
I can tell because of the calm I feel
when I think about doing them
I can almost hear them say to me
Thank you for doing us
And when evening comes
I’ll remove my shoes and place them on the floor
And think how good they look
sitting? … standing? … there
not doing anything
Award Night Reading
All poems courtesy of Coffee House Press, publishers of his Collected Poems, 2013.