Poet, editor, and translator Ron Padgett was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a high-school student he founded the avant-garde literary journal The White Dove Review with his friends and fellow students Joe Brainard and Dick Gallup. Soliciting and publishing work from poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Robert Creeley, the magazine ran for five issues. Padgett moved to New York City in 1960 to attend Columbia College. Awarded a Fulbright in 1965, Padgett spent a year in Paris studying and translating French poetry. He eventually made his home in New York City’s East Village and became a vital part of the Second Generation New York School Poets, a group that included Ted Berrigan, Brainard, and others.
Padgett is the author of over 20 collections of poetry, including his 1969 Great Balls of Fire (reissued 1990), You Never Know (2001), How to Be Perfect (2008), and How Long (2011). He has collaborated with the poet Ted Berrigan and the artist Jim Dine. Of Padgett’s work, poet David Lehman wrote in Poetry: “The great legacy of French Surrealist and Dadaist writing makes itself felt in his poems.” Voice Literary Supplement contributor Karen Volkman, reviewing Padgett’s 1995 New and Selected Poems, commented: “This … is a fine sampling of a restless, hilarious, and haunting lyric intelligence, a ‘phony’ whose variable voices form a rare and raucous orchestration: the real thing.”
In addition to poetry, Padgett has published numerous collections of prose: Blood Work: Selected Prose (1993), Ted: A Personal Memoir of Ted Berrigan (1993), and The Straight Line: Writing on Poetry and Poets (2000). He has also translated work from the French by writers Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire.
Padgett has been a teacher, director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, and publications director at the Teachers & Writers Collaborative.
St. Mark's-in-the-Bowery, New York, NY, poetry workshop instructor, 1968-69; poet in various New York City Poets in the Schools programs, 1969-76; South Carolina Arts Commission, writer in the community, 1976-78; St. Mark's Poetry Project, New York, NY, director, 1978- 81; Teachers and Writers Collaborative, New York, NY, director of publications, c. 1982-1999. Full Court Press (publisher), cofounder, c. 1973, editor, 1973-88. Lecturer at educational institutions, including Atlantic Center for the Arts and Columbia University; host of a radio series on poetry; designer of computer writing games.
- In Advance of the Broken Arm, “C” Press (New York, NY), 1964.
- (With Ted Berrigan and Joe Brainard) Some Things, “C” Press (New York, NY), 1964.
- Two Stories for Andy Warhol, “C” Press (New York, NY), 1965.
- Sky: An Opener, Goliards Press (Bellingham, WA), 1966.
- (With Ted Berrigan) Bean Spasms: Poems and Prose, Kulcher Press (New York, NY), 1967.
- Tone Arm, Once Press, 1967.
- (With Joe Brainard) 100,000 Fleeing Hilda, Boke, 1967.
- (With Tom Clark) Bun, Angel Hair Books (New York, NY), 1968.
- Great Balls of Fire, Holt (New York, NY), 1969.
- (With Jim Dine) The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Ron, Cape Gouliard Press (London, England), 1970.
- Sweet Pea, Aloes, 1971.
- Poetry Collection, Strange Faeces Press (London, England), 1971.
- (With Joe Brainard) Sufferin’ Succotash (bound with Kiss My Ass by Michael Brownstein), Adventures in Poetry, 1971.
- (With Ted Berrigan and Tom Clark) Back in Boston Again, Telegraph, 1972.
- (With Jim Dine) Oo La La, Petersburg Press (New York, NY), 1973.
- Crazy Compositions, Big Sky (Southampton, NY), 1974.
- (With others) The World of Leon, Big Sky (Southampton, NY), 1974.
- Toujours l’amour, SUN (New York, NY), 1976.
- (With G. Schneeman) Pullman, Arrive (title means “Arrive by Pullman”), Generations (Paris, France), 1978.
- Tulsa Kid, Z Press (Calais, VT), 1979.
- Triangles in the Afternoon, SUN (New York, NY), 1980.
- (With T. Winkfield) How to Be a Woodpecker, Toothpaste Press (West Branch, IA), 1983.
- (With Katz) Light as Air, Pace Editions (New York, NY), 1988.
- New and Selected Poems, David Godine (Boston, MA), 1995.
- You Never Know, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
- If I Were You (Collaborations), Proper Tales Press, 2007.
- How to Be Perfect, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.
- How Long, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2011.
Also author of The Big Something, 1990, and Poems I Guess I Wrote, 2001.
- (With Ted Berrigan) Tom Veitch, Literary Days, “C” Press (New York, NY), 1964.
- (With David Shapiro) An Anthology of New York Poets, Random House (New York, NY), 1970.
- (With Bill Zavatsky) The Whole Word Catalogue 2, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1976.
- (With Nancy Larson Shapiro) The Point: Where Teaching and Writing Intersect, Teachers and Writers Collaborative (New York, NY), 1983.
- The Complete Poems of Edwin Denby, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.
- The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, Teachers and Writers Collaborative (New York, NY), 1987, 2nd edition, 2000.
- (With Christopher Edgar) Old Faithful: Eighteen Writers Present Their Favorite Writing Assignments, Teachers and Writers Collaborative (New York, NY), 1995.
- (With Christopher Edgar) Classics in the Classroom: Using Great Literature to Teach Writing, Teachers and Writers Collaborative (New York, NY), 1998.
- (Editor in chief) World Poets, three volumes, Charles Scriber’s Sons (New York, NY), 2000.
- (With Ted Berrigan) Seventeen: Collected Plays, “C” Press (New York, NY), 1965.
- (Translator) Guillaume Apollinaire, The Poet Assassinated, Holt (New York, NY), 1968.
- (Translator) Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, Viking (New York, NY), 1970.
- (Adaptor, with Johnny Stanton) Henry Caray, Chrononhotonothologos, Boke, 1971.
- Antlers in the Treetops (novel), Coach House Press (Chicago, IL), 1973.
- (Translator, with Bill Zavatsky) Valery Larbaud, The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth, Mushinsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1974.
- (Translator) Blaise Cendrars, Kodak, Adventures in Poetry, 1976.
- (Translator) Apollinaire, The Poet Assassinated and Other Stories, North Point Press (Berkeley, CA), 1984.
- (With T. Winkfield) How to Be Modern Art, Coffee House Press (West Branch, IA), 1984.
- (With Raymond Roussel) Among the Blacks (memoir), Avenue B (Bolinas, CA), 1988.
- (Translator) Blaise Cendrars, Complete Poems, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1992.
- Blood Work: Selected Prose, Bamberger Books (Flint, MI), 1993.
- Ted: A Personal Memoir of Ted Berrigan, Figures (Berkeley, CA), 1993.
- Creative Reading: What It Is, How to Do It, and Why, National Council of Teachers of English (Urbana, IL), 1997.
- The Straight Line: Writings on Poetry and Poets, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2000.
- Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2003.
- Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard, Coffee House Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
Also author of (with Clark Coolidge) Supernatural Overtones, 1990, and Albanian Diary, 1999. Creator (with Bertrand Dorny) of a handmade booklet, “Bang Goes the Literature.” Work represented in anthologies. Contributor, sometimes under pseudonym Harlan Dangerfield, to periodicals.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1980.
- Kostelanetz, Richard, editor, The New American Arts, Horizon, 1966.
- American Book Review, March-April, 1981.
- American Poetry Review, July-August, 2002, Paul Hoover, "Fables of Representation: Poetry of the New York School," p. 20.
- American Reference Books Annual, 2001, review of World Poets, p. 521.
- Booklist, October 15, 2000, review of World Poets, p. 486.
- Catholic Library World, December, 2000, review of World Poets, p. 139.
- Chicago Review, spring, 1997, Clayton Eshleman, "Padgett the Collaborator," p. 8.
- Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, February, 1998, review of Creative Reading: What It Is, How to Do It, and Why, p. 414.
- Library Journal, September 15, 2000, review of World Poets, p. 62; April 15, 2001, review of World Poets, p. 46.
- New York Times Book Review, March 31, 1968; September 19, 1976.
- Parnassus: Poetry in Review, January, 2001, review of An Anthology of New York Poets, p. 324.
- Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2001, review of The Straight Line: Writings on Poetry and Poets, p. 79; June 17, 2002, review of You Never Know, p. 58.
- Reading Teacher, May, 1999, review of Creative Reading, p. 882.
- Reference and Research Book News, August, 1997, review of Creative Reading, p. 123.
- School Library Journal, February, 2001, Dana McDougald, review of World Poets, p. 82.
- Sulfur, fall, 1997, review of Creative Reading, p. 191.
- Village Voice, December 7, 1967; January 24, 1977.
- Voice Literary Supplement, September, 1996, Karen Volkman, review of New and Selected Poems, p. 21.
- Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1997, review of Creative Reading, p. 349.*
Audio & PodcastsPoetry Lectures
Oral History Initiative: On Frank O'Hara
An informal conversation between poets John Ashbery and Ron Padgett, remembering the life of Frank O’Hara. Conducted at Harvard University in April 2011, and used by permission of Ron Padgett, John Ashbery, and the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard College Library. To see the event video, click here.
The Poetry Assassination of Kenneth Koch
Ron Padgett and Andrei Codrescu recount a faked assassination attempt on Kenneth Koch at St. Mark's Church.
POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic
SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)
LIFE SPAN 1942–