Gathering the work of more than fifty years, Ron Padgett's Collected Poems is the record of one of the most dynamic careers in twentieth-century American poetry. Padgett's poems reverberate with his reading and friendships, from Andrew Marvell to Woody Guthrie and Kenneth Koch. Wry, insightful, and direct, they offer readers the rewards of his endless curiosity and generous spirit.
When I wake up earlier than you and youare turned to face me, faceon the pillow and hair spread around, I take a chance and stare at you, amazed in love and afraidthat you might open your eyes and havethe daylights scared out of you. But maybe with the daylights goneyou'd see how much my chest and headimplode for you, their voices trappedinside like unborn children fearingthey will never see the light of day. The opening in the wall now dimly glowsits rainy blue and gray. I tie my shoesand go downstairs to put the coffee on.
Ron Padgett grew up in Oklahoma and has lived mostly in New York City since he went there in 1960 to attend Columbia, with stays in Paris, South Carolina, and Vermont. Although a memoirist and translator, most of his writing since 1957 has been poetry. He is a happy grandfather.
Volta Best Books of 2013
"Ron Padgett's Collected Poems is 810 pages long, and every page is a good time. . . . [B]y turns (or all at once) sweet, hilarious, moving and mind-bogglingly imaginative. This book is for anyone who likes writing or who thinks it's interesting to have a mind (or simply a forehead)." Wall Street Journal, "12 Months of Reading: Richard Hell's 2013 Picks"
2014 Winner of the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award
"Although it wasn't a requirement for this award, I can think of no other poet I've read over the past 40 years who embodies Williams's spirit and his great heart's aesthetic. . . I'm willing to put money on Padgett, in two or three generations (it takes that long) to be counted among the best poets of his generation, to be counted among the best American poets, period." Poetry Society
"[Padgett's] recently released Collected Poems implicitly implores us to talk about his body of work as that of a twentieth-century Great who is still producing superlative verse today. . . And that's exactly what Padgett is: a virtuoso." Huffington Post
"Five decades fuel Collected Poems, a tome teeming with Padgett’s trademark traits: comic energy, good humor, alert intelligence, constant curiosity, and the determination to put it all into poems. . . . But this exemplar of the gloriously zany, this champion of comic-book characters, turns out also to be a fount of wisdom and good sense.” David Lehman, Publisher's Weekly, Boxed Review
"[Collected Poems] is 840 pages of pure bliss, taking us from the insouciant poet in his youth to the most fun elder statesman possible. Casual and profound at once, Padgett’s poems are attuned to the music of love and friendship, life and death. . . all under the sign of a uniquely affable sense of humor."Rain Taxi
"Here they are all! A giant stack of your favorites from America's most wiggy poet. And one of its most friendly. There is a lot of boy in the mature Padgett, and he has never tired of the game of connecting things that no one ever thought to connect before." Goodreads, "Billy Collins's Favorite Works of Poetry"
The prestigious Coffee House Press, Padgett’s longtime publisher, recently released Collected Poems,” a nearly 1,000-page career-spanning omnibus. It’s essential.” The Tulsa Voice
"Coffee House Press has released a vehicle for everyday space travel: Ron Padgett’s Collected Poems. . . Forty-five years after Great Balls of Fire, Padgett’s poems still fuel our capacity for joyful incomprehensibility and subsequent mobility of thought." Poetry Magazine
"His poems are conversational, extremely accessible, willfully casual and consistently funny, but also laced with a lightly worn sadness, a symptom of everyday heartache." Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR.org blog
"Padgett’s poems are full of these moments . . . hilarious and untapped times that make you giddy with delight. . . . It’s a privilege to read these poems." The Rumpus
[U]nabashed fun to read. . . Big Collecteds tend to be the poetic equivalents of cenotaphs and mausoleums, a variety of funerary art, even when honoring a writer still very much alive. Ron Padgett’s Collected is a work of a different order: he has as left us not the pyramid of Khufu, but instead a monumental fun house. And I think we’ll be exploring its marvels and oddball corridors for a good long while.” On the Seawall, Twelve Poets Recommend New and Recent Titles”
"Ron Padgett's Collected Poems promises to be one of the most influential books of poetry ever published. . . . Padgett regales us with poetry that is as refined as it is exuberant. The absolute energy of these poems zaps us with humor, intelligence and the lightning bolt of good sense. . . . They fill us with the hope that perhaps we live to read and not to die." The Journal (of West Virginia)
"[Padgett's poems] are apt to be occasional, funny, and about something quotidian or underfoot such as reading a French-English dictionary, drinking chocolate milk or having a fantasy about seeing his father sitting on the front porch as it rains. But for all the humor and air of innocence that dances through the poems as nimble, succinct and gracefully elegant as Fred Astaire other feelings, at once dark and possibly unfathomable, are hinted at, without Padgett stepping in and spelling them out. . . . It is writing that is both necessary and without pretense." Hyperallergic
"Padgett’s poetry . . displays an enviable amalgam of wit, whimsy and goodwill."Australian Poetry
"You owe it to yourself to possess a copy of [Padgett's] Collected Poems. " The Allen Ginsberg Project
"[Padgett's] playfulness in itself is inspiring. [His] lightness of touch jumps from every page.. . . Padgett is a living leviathan and this collection is his box set." KCETV (Southern California)
Praise for Ron Padgett
Wonderful, generous, funny poetry.” John Ashbery
The poet makes superlative use of the directive writing consciousnessoften automatic pilotto 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
"Ron Padgett makes the most quiet and sensible of feelings a provocatively persistent wonder." Robert Creeley
"The Ron Padgett of yore is sill with usas charming, unpretentious, and surprising as everbut there is a new Ron Padgett in this book as well: a poet of heartbreaking tenderness and ever-deepening wisdom." Paul Auster
"Ron Padgett's poems sing with absolutely true pitch . . . agile and lucid and glad to be alive." James Tate
"Always discovering new pleasures and reviving old ones, full of what, in Frank O'Hara's phrase, 'still makes a poem a surprise,' Ron Padgett's poems, among those of our times, are in the small company of authentic works of art." Kenneth Koch
Ron Padgett has that 'Lubitsch touch'--a whimsical grace that is full of wisdom and self-possession complete with mother-wit and, in his case, American invention." Peter Gizzi
"Padgett's plainspoken, wry poems deliver their wisdom through a kind of connoisseurship of absurdity." The New Yorker
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.” Charles Simic, New York Review of Books
Padgett’s sense of romantic joy is undiminished, as is his thoughtfulness about language and the ways in which time changes meaning, and sense can morph into eloquent absurdity.” Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
"These poems mingle the nervy sophistication and cosmopolitan experimentalism of a thriving international avant-garde art tradition with a kind of hillbilly twang that's unmistakably American." Tom Clark, San Francisco Chronicle
"Padgett regularly deals in realms of the unexpected. Just when you think you know what to expect next he jolts your expectations. The Collected Poems definitively convinces that there is no such thing as a stereotypical Ron Padgett poem. There is no label to place Padgett under other than Padgett, and even then he’s sure to surprise himself." New Pages Book Review
Tulsa native Ron Padgett is a poet, translator and teacher whose work, in the words of the Huffington Post, makes him 'a national treasure.'” Tulsa World
"Padgett’s Collected Poems is a fine collection, the summing up of a life, the life that’s been lived and the work that the life has produced. And it’s good work."Tweakspeak
The Collected Poems of Ron Padgett, which was put out by the wondrous Coffee House Press, also the original US publisher of Ben Lerner and Eimear McBride.”Barnes and Noble Review