Celebrate National Poetry Month by going to a Poets Coffeehouse event at the Dweck Center. On April 15, Ron Padgett and Alice Notley read, and I took the opportunity to ask them about their writing lives.
Ron Padgett moved to New York from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1960, and his first collection of poems, Bean Spasms, written with Ted Berrigan, was published in 1967. Since then he has published several books of poetry, including How to Be Perfect (Coffee House Press, 2007).
Q: What do you find is the biggest challenge in being a poet; the biggest reward?
A: Biggest challenge: Trying to write better and better poems. Biggest reward: The momentary illusion that I actually am writing better and better poems.
Q: What role can poetry have now that it seems difficult to keep people reading it?
A: I'm not so sure that it is difficult to keep people reading poetry. In fact there seem to be more and more people reading (and writing) it. Hundreds of poetry books are published every year, and poetry is all over the internet and on NPR.
Q: Was having a community of poets and writers important in your development as a poet?
A: Yes, having poet friends was especially important when I was young. At the time, I didn't know how important it was. But in a larger sense, a "community" should include poets living and dead, and for me that community has remained absolutely essential.
Q: Who are some of your favorite poets?
A: I will limit my answer only to poets who are not alive. If I list live ones, the ones I forget to list will bang on my head. Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, Dante, Apollinaire, Homer, Frank O'Hara, Lorca, William Carlos Williams, Keats, Tu Fu, Emily Dickinson, Robert Herrick, Basho, and Wallace Stevens, to name just a few…
On Monday, April 13, come back to see what Alice Notley has to say. And learn more about poetry by checking out books from BPL.