People who like to categorize things often refer to Ron Padgett as a second-generation
No one has contributed more to sustain the liveliness of the writing than Ron Padgett. Since the early 1960s he has been writing a deceptively spare poetry t hat is often quite funny and reveals its very serious playfulness only indirectly. For instance, early in his new book, How to Be Perfect, the poem “Rinso” begins with him doing the dishes but rapidly goes somewhere else entirely before returning to the task at hand:
The slight agitationof pots and pansand a few dishesin sudsy waterinto which handsplunge and fingersoperate like ina magic act in whichbubbles burstinto flowers presentedto the blonde girlwho rotates ona wheel that fliesup through the ceiling anddisappears.The dishes are sparkling.
Yes, it’s funny, but there is something absolutely wonderful about it.
The bravely and absurdly titled poem that gives its name to the whole collection is a long series of sentences that give advice — even though one of the first directions for achieving perfection is “Don’t give advice.” These aphorisms move from the practical (“Keep your windows clean”) to the improbable (“Do not practice cannibalism”). Along the way it includes things – “Don’t stay angry about anything for more that a week, but don’t forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball collection” — that are weirdly and perfectly wise, and that could be written by no one but Ron Padgett.
It is typical of Padgett that he would choose to read with a younger writer just making his reputation. Ander Monson, who teaches and
The ice in the canalthe faulty floor through which hedescendedblazing on the back of his Arctic Catis black as slatewhich means it’s thinand the boys on the shorethrow aimless stones that yieldricochets with laser sounds.
It will be very interesting to hear how these northern images by Ander Monson play with the