You Never Know


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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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.

Marketing Plans:
Co-op available National author tour to include New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, and Milwaukee National print advertising

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.

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Great Balls of Fire

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566891288
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 843,861
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Padgett, as Peter Gizzi says, is "a thoroughly American poet, coming sideways out of Whitman, Williams and New York Pop with a Tulsa twist." His poetry has been translated into over a dozen languages and has appeared in The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, The Oxford Book of American Poetry, and on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac.

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Read an Excerpt

You Never Know



Copyright © 2001 Ron Padgett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1566891280

Chapter One

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 agoand 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.

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Table of Contents

Morning 1
Glow 2
To Myself 3
Advice to Young Writers 4
The Missing Lips 5
Not Particularly 6
Fairy Tale 7
Jay 8
Sudden Flashes 9
J & J 10
For a Moment 11
Fixation 12
My Son the Greek 13
Small Pond 14
Amsterdam 15
What to Do 16
Rectangle Obligation 17
Embraceable You 18
Obit Backlash 19
The Happy Whistler 21
The Austrian Maiden 22
Mountains Are a Feeling 23
The County Fair 24
The Abyss 25
The Saint Lurches 26
Voice and Fur 27
Poem in a Manner Not My Own 28
The Sweeper 29
Listening to Joe Read 30
Bluebird 31
Hug 32
Bobbie and Me on Bicycles 33
And Oil 34
Poem 35
The Drummer Boy 36
Medieval Salad Dive 37
The Drink 38
You Never Know 39
A Prescription for a Happy Sort of Melancholy 40
Metaphor of the Morning 41
Toybox 42
To Anne Porter 43
The Future of Your Name 44
A Rude Mechanical 45
Poet as Immortal Bird 46
The Idea of Rotterdam 47
Exceptions to the Rule 48
Crossing the Alps 49
Think and Do 50
My Trip to Italy 51
Haiku 52
The Periscope 53
Little Ode to Suzanne Farrell 54
Bob Creeley Breakthrough 56
How to Become a Tree in Sweden 57
Aquamarine Fantasy 58
Frisky 59
Elegy 60
Feathers 61
Flash Photo 62
Old Song 63
The Poet's Breakfast 64
I Guess 65
Lullaby 66
The Song of Grandpa 67
Music 68
Wisconsin 69
Bang Goes the Literature 70
The Lips of the Dairymen 71
Morning Poem 72
Album 73
The Love Cook 74
Nuts 75
When George Calls 76
And Was It Leeds? 77
People with Heads 78
Pensee juste 79
Ape Man 80
The Woodpecker Today 81
Little Elegy 82
Sacred Heart 83
Amy 84
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