Poets and Critics Symposium 2017.2 : Ron Padgett, Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 July, 2017

T. Winkfields portrait of RP
Ron Padgett with his portrait by Trevor Winkfield. © Ron Padgett and Trevor Winkfield.

The next Poets and Critics Symposium will be devoted to the work of Ron Padgett.

Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 July.

Université Paris Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges / Olympe de Gouges building, 8 place Paul Ricoeur, 75013 Paris
9:45am-5pm, room 340 (3rd floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building).

PLEASE NOTE: we have had to change rooms, the new room is ODG 340 on the third floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building. You can either take the elevator to the third floor (in which case a badge from security will be necessary to activate the elevators) or walk up the three flights of stairs to the third floor. Please allow 5 to 10 minutes when arriving at the university to get to the room itself.

Howimage doigt petit to get there?
For detailed instructions and directions, click HERE.

Poetry reading with Ron Padgett and Anne Portugal
Monday 10 July, 7:30pm, Atelier Michael Woolworth, Place de la Bastille, 2, rue de la Roquette, Cour Février, 75011 Paris For detailed directions, click HERE.

If you would like to attend the symposium and are not already in touch with us, please contact us and we will send you information, instructions about and directions to the symposium:

So far, we’ve tried to focus on the writer’s own (creative and critical) work on the first day of the P&C symposia and on broader issues of poetics and practice-based criticism with the writer on the second day. But there’s no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course.

Please note that the morning session of the first day is devoted to preparing the conversation with Ron Padgett which will take place during the afternoon session and the second day. Ron Padgett will be joining the group at 2pm on Monday 10 July. To launch our morning discussion, our colleague Grant Jenkins (University of Tulsa) will give an introductory talk to put Ron Padgett’s work back into the context of the “Tulsa” and “New York schools.”

As usual, we intend to address all aspects of our guest’s work as poet, prose-writer, critic, translator and editor. Please feel free to make suggestions as to particular books that you would like to discuss during the symposium.

Our Monday afternoon session with Ron Padgett should end by 6 pm, which will leave ample time for everybody to get to the poetry reading.


Ron Padgett’s bibliography is extensive and covers a great variety of genres. For detailed information, you can go to http://ronpadgett.com/

Ron Padgett’s most recent book, Motor Maids across the Continent, is a novella published by The Song Cave (2017). Besides his poetry, we hope to discuss his many translations, his activities as poetry editor and publisher, his role at the Teachers and Writers Collective, and his many collaborations with artists and writers, among other subjects.

  • If you do not have Ron Padgett’s individual volumes, his Collected Poems (Coffee House Press) include his poetry from the very first books (1964) up to How Long (CHP, 2011).
  • Alone and Not Alone (with a cover by Jim Dine), published in 2015 by Coffee House Press, is Ron Padgett’s most recent book of poetry.
  • The Straight Line: Writing on Poetry and Poets (University of Michigan Press, 2000) includes three sections “Poems about Poetry,” “Prose Works,” and “Essays on Teaching Writing.”

You can order books by Ron Padgett directly from the Coffee House Press website shop (coffeehousepress.org/shop). They offer international shipping at reasonable rates.

We have started posting some texts by Ron Padgett on the website. We welcome contributions and suggestions before the symposium: we can circulate texts to the group or post them on the website.

Daniel Kane’s books Don’t Ever Get Famous: Essays on New York Writing after the New York School (Dalkey Archive, 2006) and All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s (UCal Press, 2003) provide discussions of Ron Padgett’s work (including an essay by Lorenzo Thomas, “The Pleasures of Elusiveness,” in Don’t Ever Get Famous).

We should also mention the lavishly illustrated and documented New York School Painters & Poets. Neon in Daylight, edited by Jenni Quilter with Bill Berkson, Larry Fagin and Allison Power (Rizzoli, 2014).


–          Monday 10 July morning session (9:30am-12pm): all participants are invited to a preliminary session to prepare for our afternoon discussion with Ron Padgett. This first session will be the occasion for all participants to touch base and mention some aspects of Ron’s work that they would like to discuss.

–          Monday 10 July 2-5:30 pm: Ron Padgett will be joining us for our afternoon session and discussion.  The first afternoon session is traditionally devoted to discussing the invited poet’s work and its context.

–          Monday 10 July 7:30 pm: Poetry reading. Michael Woolworth atelier, Paris.

–          Tuesday 11 July 9:30 am – 5:30 pm: second day of the symposium. On the second day, besides our guest’s poetry, we sometimes discuss her / his engagement with other forms of writing and alternative modes of criticism. In the past, we have also done close readings of poems. These are just possibilities. The conversation often dictates its own course and topics.

–          Tuesday 11 July 7:30 pm: End of symposium dinner.



Ron Padgett was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he attended public schools. His father was primarily a bootlegger who also traded cars, his mother primarily a housewife who also helped with the bootlegging. Around the age of 13, young Ron began scribbling his thoughts and poems in spiral notebooks. This practice followed hard on the heels of his having read, for the first time, “serious” literature.

In high school Ron discovered contemporary literature and started a little magazine called The White Dove Review, along with his friends Dick Gallup and Joe Brainard. In its five issues (1958-1960) the magazine published Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, Ted Berrigan, and others.

In 1960 Padgett moved to New York to attend Columbia College, where, over the course of four years in the pursuit of English and Comparative Literature, he was fortunate to study under teachers such as Kenneth Koch, F. W. Dupee, Andrew Chiappe, and Lionel Trilling. After his junior year, Padgett married Patricia Mitchell, whom he had known in Tulsa and who had also immigrated to New York. Other Tulsa émigrés during this period included Brainard, Gallup, and Berrigan.

During his college years, Ron published his work in a number of “underground” literary magazines and gave readings of his poetry in New York City.

In 1965-66 Padgett was able to spend a year in Paris on a Fulbright, studying and translating 20th-century French literature. The following year, Ron and Pat’s son Wayne was born. The three set up house in a bohemian apartment in New York in what is now called The East Village, where the parents have lived ever since.

Beginning in the mid-1960s the Padgetts visited Kenward Elmslie and Joe Brainard at the former’s house in northern Vermont each summer for fifteen years. Then they constructed their own abode nearby.

In the late 1960s a spate of Padgett’s books appeared: Bean Spasms, in collaboration with Berrigan and Brainard, from Kulchur; a translation of Apollinaire’s Poet Assassinated, illustrated by Jim Dine, from Holt, Rinehart & Winston; and Great Balls of Fire, poems, also from Holt.

In January of 1969 Kenneth Koch talked Ron into teaching poetry writing to children, which he did for the next nine years. Padgett also served as Director of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project 1978-1980. Then he took the position of Publications Director at Teachers & Writers Collaborative, the nonprofit organization that specializes in teaching imaginative writing to children. There he edited and wrote books on that subject for 20 years.

Over the decades he has done a fair amount of traveling in Western and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, China, and North America.

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