Cover image for You never know : poems
You never know : poems
Padgett, Ron, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : Coffee House Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
84 pages ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3566.A32 Y68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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You never know what to expect from Ron Padgett, a poet full of delightful surprises and discoveries. This witty new collection glides from comic to elegiac to lyrical, in celebrations of fairy tales, friendship, cubism, birds, lullabies, spirituality, Dutch painting, and the magic of everyday life, all rendered in artful conversational American.

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Ron Padgett was born in Tulsa in 1942. With Ted Berrigan and others, Padgett reinvented the New York School of poetry in the mid-1960s. Also a distinguished translator of modern French poetry, he has published 15 books of his own, including Great Balls of Fire , and has been honored by a Guggenheim and an American Academy of Arts and Letters poetry award. Padgett lives in New York City.

Also Available
Great Balls of Fire
TP $8.95 0-918273-80-3 CUSA

Author Notes

Ron Padgett was born in Tulsa in 1942. With Ted Berrigan and others, Padgett reinvented the New York School of Poetry in the mid-1960s. He has published over fourteen books, and is regarded as one of the finest translators of Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire. He lives in New York City

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Coming through with clarity and charm in his seventh full collection, Padgett is the undisputed Zen master of the chicane, maintaining a perfectly readable and casual tone while turning meanings on a dime, or several dimes, on his way to a reliably radiant and melancholy conclusion. The giddy excitement of these changes is difficult to excerpt: "Sudden Flashes" begins in media res, "hit the sky hot as javelins vibrating in a baobab that became a mast with chevrons aflutter, and the ghost ship floats into an icy abyss." Recent work has tended toward a prosy style that fronts luminous anecdotes with outrageous titles ("Licking Igor's Head"; "Extreme Vindaloo"; "The Missing Lips") that remain startling even after the eccentric observations have come to seem natural. These poems make a go at the epistemological concerns of the title, but like his collaborator Ted Berrigan or his predecessors James Schuyler and Kenneth Koch, Padgett shines brightest when he interrupts his crazy word combinations to be serious about love and death. And in his breathless praise of a ballerina ("Little Ode to Suzanne Farrell"), he transcends his preoccupation with geometry to soar: "No ode is big or fast enough to have the very all of you inside it so I will have to be like you and climb inside myself and fly into the outline that the pattern of my moving self has left behind." While he acknowledges in the title poem that it's impossible to ever really be certain about "oh anything," this is Padgett's most moving book to date. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Morning Who is here with me? My mother and an Indian man. (I am writing this in the past.) The Indian man is not a man, but a wooden statue just outside the limits of wood. My mother is made of mother. She touches the wood with her eyes and the eyes of the statue turn to hers, that is, become hers. (I am not dreaming. I haven't even been born yet.) There is a cloud in the sky. My father is inside the cloud, asleep. When he wakes up, he will want coffee and a smoke. My mother will set fire to the Indian and from deep inside her body I will tell her to start the coffee, for even now I hear my father's breathing change. Glow When I wake up earlier than you and you are turned to face me, face on the pillow and hair spread around, I take a chance and stare at you, amazed in love and afraid that you might open your eyes and have the daylights scared out of you. But maybe with the daylights gone you'd see how much my chest and head implode for you, their voices trapped inside like unborn children fearing they will never see the light of day. The opening in the wall now dimly glows its rainy blue and gray. I tie my shoes and go downstairs to put the coffee on. To Myself And another thing. This same window I looked out of how many years ago and heard my future in the form of car tires hissing against pavement and now read of it in a poem written that night I had on an old bathrobe black and gray and white thick heavy cotton out of a Thirties movie and at the bottom of which my legs stuck out with wool socks on feet that shuffled me over to the window that had raindrops all over it and shuffled me back to my desk to write that poem, feeling moved by the height of the quiet waiting, an animal in the dark wanting to sing in English. Advice to Young Writers One of the things I've repeated to writing students is that they should write when they don't feel like writing, just sit down and start, and when it doesn't go very well, to press on then, to get to that one thing you'd otherwise never find. What I forgot to mention was that this is just a writing technique, that you could also be out mowing the lawn, where, if you bring your mind to it, you'll also eventually come to something unexpected ("The robin he hunts and pecks"), or watching the "Farm News" on which a large man is referring to the "Greater Massachusetts area." It's alright, students, not to write. Do whatever you want. As long as you find that unexpected something, or even if you don't. The Missing Lips In the flower garden behind the cottage whose foundation rests in the gentle hills of Sussex, England, ca. 1920, a small black-and-white terrier is writhing around on the lawn and snorting in joy, snorting because he's had the urge to writhe and snort under the blue sunny sky, then trot off into the shade and plunk down on crossed paws and wait for Marian to come home from school, little Marian who feeds him treats and kisses him on what would be his lips if he had any! Excerpted from You Never Know by RON PADGETT Copyright © 2001 by Ron Padgett Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Morningp. 1
Glowp. 2
To Myselfp. 3
Advice to Young Writersp. 4
The Missing Lipsp. 5
Not Particularlyp. 6
Fairy Talep. 7
Jayp. 8
Sudden Flashesp. 9
J & Jp. 10
For a Momentp. 11
Fixationp. 12
My Son the Greekp. 13
Small Pondp. 14
Amsterdamp. 15
What to Dop. 16
Rectangle Obligationp. 17
Embraceable Youp. 18
Obit Backlashp. 19
The Happy Whistlerp. 21
The Austrian Maidenp. 22
Mountains Are a Feelingp. 23
The County Fairp. 24
The Abyssp. 25
The Saint Lurchesp. 26
Voice and Furp. 27
Poem in a Manner Not My Ownp. 28
The Sweeperp. 29
Listening to Joe Readp. 30
Bluebirdp. 31
Hugp. 32
Bobbie and Me on Bicyclesp. 33
And Oilp. 34
Poemp. 35
The Drummer Boyp. 36
Medieval Salad Divep. 37
The Drinkp. 38
You Never Knowp. 39
A Prescription for a Happy Sort of Melancholyp. 40
Metaphor of the Morningp. 41
Toyboxp. 42
To Anne Porterp. 43
The Future of Your Namep. 44
A Rude Mechanicalp. 45
Poet as Immortal Birdp. 46
The Idea of Rotterdamp. 47
Exceptions to the Rulep. 48
Crossing the Alpsp. 49
Think and Dop. 50
My Trip to Italyp. 51
Haikup. 52
The Periscopep. 53
Little Ode to Suzanne Farrellp. 54
Bob Creeley Breakthroughp. 56
How to Become a Tree in Swedenp. 57
Aquamarine Fantasyp. 58
Friskyp. 59
Elegyp. 60
Feathersp. 61
Flash Photop. 62
Old Songp. 63
The Poet's Breakfastp. 64
I Guessp. 65
Lullabyp. 66
The Song of Grandpap. 67
Musicp. 68
Wisconsinp. 69
Bang Goes the Literaturep. 70
The Lips of the Dairymenp. 71
Morning Poemp. 72
Albump. 73
The Love Cookp. 74
Nutsp. 75
When George Callsp. 76
And Was It Leeds?p. 77
People with Headsp. 78
Pensee justep. 79
Ape Manp. 80
The Woodpecker Todayp. 81
Little Elegyp. 82
Sacred Heartp. 83
Amyp. 84