How LongBook - 2011
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.