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This interview is taken from PN Review 215, Volume 40 Number 3, January - February 2014.

In Conversation with Ron Padgett Yasmine Shamma
To begin, a bold assertion: Over the past five decades of his poetry career, Ron Padgett has offered a poetry which presents the possibility of 'popping out' of binary schemes. In both the titles and the content of his many poetry collections to date, Padgett declares a formally considered poetic agenda: things are treated as physical portals to abstract worlds, where every thing is connected by virtue of its having a figurative counterpart somewhere, and therefore, nothing is restricted to linearity. Perhaps because such an idea is difficult to treat literarily and critically, Padgett's poetry has not received much critical attention; he is often written about as a member of the New York School, but seldom as a poet on his own.

In April 2012,1 I met with Ron Padgett to discuss his then new and esteemed collection (it was a finalist for the Pulitzer) How Long, and the way his poems engage with the etymology of the word 'stanza'. Throughout his fifty years of writing poetry so far, Padgett's poems have consistently been places where it is possible to celebrate what is gained in space, rather than what is lost. While most poetry is associative, Padgett's is particularly so, as he allows his poems - as varied as those from his 1969 Great Balls of Fire2 to those in 2011's How Long - to unfold and 'dance' in the light of the citied day. Because his is a poetry that is simultaneously easy to read and difficult to apprehend, Padgett is aware of both the mistakes and the difficulty in ...


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