I had the pleasure of interviewing the poet, Ron Padgett, in his Manhattan apartment this week. I recall laughing much of the time, though I certainly learned a few things along the way. He also read some poems from You Never Know (Coffee House Press), which are at the end of part two of the interview.
Excerpted blurbs below from the Coffee House Press buzz on Ron’s book. Enjoy!
“Ron Padgett makes the most quiet and sensible of feelings a provocatively persistent wonder. You never know what he’ll think of next!” –Robert Creeley
“These ‘late’ poems of Ron Padgett have the clearness, the small sadness, and the big space of Guillaume Apollinaire, one of the many French writers he has translated into English. They are like a glass of transparent Vittel water held against the sky of Paris. ‘I am forty-nine years old and surrounded by death. Does writing help? Probably not,’ he writes in a poem about a friend who has since died. But Ron’s writing helps us. Enormously.” –John Ashbery
“A Padgett classic. He has, with obvious premeditation and pleasure, employed his most characteristic “tricks” to produce a deep, funny book. The poet makes superlative use of the directive writing consciousness — often automatic pilot — to tap the unconscious for memory, vision, emotion, and the unexpected and indefinable. The poems speak backwards and forwards in time, to self, to family and friends, to poetic technique, to the birds caged in the chest. It is so lovely.” –Alice Notley
“Is there another American poet who could make us stop and wonder why woodpeckers don’t get headaches? Could anyone else do a better job of evoking the small, tactile pleasures of sweeping up dust with a cornstraw broom? The Ron Padgett of yore is still with us-as charming, unpretentious, and surprising as ever-but there is a new Ron Padgett in this book as well: a poet of heart-breaking tenderness and ever-deepening wisdom. In You Never Know, he has become a chronicler of mortality, an elegist of worlds that vanish before our eyes.” –Paul Auster
“Ron Padgett’s poems sing with absolutely true pitch. And they are human friendly. Their search for truths, both small and large, can be cause for laughter, or at least a thoughtful sigh. You Never Know is a delightful antidote to anything pretentious. These poems are agile and lucid and glad to be alive. It’s a pleasure to recommend them.” –James Tate