Great Balls of Fire

Poetry by Ron Padgett

July 1, 1990 • 6 x 9 • 96 pages • 978-0-918273-80-2

Delightful poems that were born in an era when anything seemed possible, are now ready for a new generation of readers.

Ron Padgett’s sparkling gem of a collection receives new polish in this revised edition. Out of print for eighteen years, these poems, full of wit and a sense of the unexpected, are now ready for a new generation of poetry lovers. Old fans and new readers will be greeted by Padgett’s unique sense of reflective delight that charmed critics when Great Balls of Fire first appeared in 1969. With this revival, Coffee House Press is pleased to continue the small press tradition of keeping important books in print.

About the Author

Ron Padgett grew up in Tulsa and has lived mostly in New York City since 1960. Among his many honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters poetry award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Padgett’s How Long was Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and his Collected Poems won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Los Angeles Times prize for the best poetry book of 2013. In addition to being a poet, he is also the translator of Guillaume Apollinaire, Pierre Reverdy, and Blaise Cendrars. His own work has been translated into eighteen languages.


“Padgett’s volume is a work of wit, crackling and inventive, and I found myself grinning constantly while I was reading it.” Yale Review

“The great legacy of French surrealist and dadaist writing, so vile to Koch and Ashbery, its American inheritors, makes itself felt in these poems.” —David Lehman, Poetry

“Tremendous skill with delicate thought and basic intelligence often lacking in his contemporaries.” Library Journal

“A sustained virtuoso performance. . . . And the personality that finally emerges is quite fascinating, boisterous and secretive, charming and bewildering.” Kirkus