Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard

A memoir by Ron Padgett

October 1, 2004 • 6 x 9 • 360 pages • 978-1-56689-159-2

Ron Padgett remembers the life and times of his friend, the brilliant artist and writer Joe Brainard.

Ron Padgett’s warm, conversational memoir is the unlikely and true story of two childhood friends, one straight and one gay, who grew up in 1950s Oklahoma, surprised their families by moving to New York City in search of art and poetry, and became part of a dynamic community of artists and writers whose work continues to shape American culture. Much of this intimate memoir is told in Brainard’s own direct and unforgettable voice. Dozens of letters, journal entries, poems, photographs, and artworks create a stirring portrait of the times and remind us that love, life, and art matter every second.

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.


“Joe Brainard was an innovative artist who gradually stopped working altogether, a stutterer who gave masterful readings, someone insecure about his lack of education who wrote I Remember, a book of lasting importance. His lifelong friend, the poet Ron Padgett, has given us a limpid memoir of Brainard that captures his saintly gentleness, overwhelming generosity and deep originality. This is a precious portrait of one of the key figures of the New York art scene during its glory days in the 1960s and 1970s.” —Edmund White