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 Great Balls of Fire (1969, reissued 1990); You Never Know (2001); How to Be Perfect (2007); How Long (2011), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Collected Poems (2013), winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize. He has collaborated with the poet Ted Berrigan and the artists Jim Dine and George Schneeman. 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. He is currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and lives in New York City and Vermont.