Ron Padgett was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1942. He began writing at the age of 13 and started a little magazine in high school called The White Dove Review with friends Dick Gallup and Joe Brainard. In its five issues, the magazine published Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones (now Amiri Baraka), Ted Berrigan, and others.
In 1960, he moved to New York, where he attended Columbia College and studied with Kenneth Koch and Lionel Trilling. Padgett later spent a year in Paris on a Fulbright fellowship where he studied French literature.
His first collection of poems, Bean Spasms, written with Ted Berrigan, was published in 1967. Since then he has published many books of poetry, including How Long (Coffee House Press, 2011), How to Be Perfect (2007), You Never Know (2002), Poems I Guess I Wrote (2001), New & Selected Poems (1995), The Big Something (1990), Triangles in the Afternoon (1979), and Great Balls of Fire (1969).
He has also published a volume of selected prose titled Blood Work (1993), as well as translations of Blaise Cendrars' Complete Poems (1992), Pierre Cabanne's Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp (1971), and Guillaume Apollinaire's The Poet Assassinated (1968).
For his translations, Padgett has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Columbia University's Translation Center.
About Padgett's work, the poet James Tate wrote, "Ron Padgett's poems sing with absolutely true pitch. And they are human friendly. Their search for truths, both small and large, can be cause for laughter, or at least a thoughtful sigh."
Padgett was the editor-in-chief of World Poets, a three-volume reference book (Scribner, 2000). For twenty years Padgett was the publications director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative. He was elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008. He lives in New York City.