Ron Padgett’s title poem asks: “How long do you want to go on being the person you think you are? / How Long, a city in China.” With the arrival of his first grandchild, Padgett becomes even more inspired to confront the eternal mysteries in poems with a wry, rueful honesty that comes only with experience, in his case sixty-eight years of it.
I never thought,
forty years ago,
taping my poems into a notebook,
that one day the tape
would turn yellow, grow brittle, and fall off
and that I’d find myself on hands and knees
groaning as I picked the pieces up
off the floor
one by one
Ron Padgett is a celebrated translator, memoirist, and “a thoroughly American poet, coming sideways out of Whitman, Williams, and New York Pop with a Tulsa twist” (Peter Gizzi). His poetry has been translated into more than a dozen languages and has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, The Oxford Book of American Poetry, and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He was also a guest on Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion in 2009. Padgett is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and his most recent books include How to Be Perfect; You Never Know, Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard; and If I Were You. Born in Oklahoma, he lives in New York City and Calais, Vermont.