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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

Review of Book “Big Cabin” by Ron Padgett

Ron Padgett is an American author, and his book Big Cabin was published by Coffee House Press in 2019. It could be a late review as I read it recently. I read his poems on social media; they were graciously simple, so much so that I bought his book Big Cabin, engaging enough, I completed at stretch. Now sitting along with my writing pad and laptop, outside the serene pit-pat, rain is going on, inciting me to write about this book. I invited Padgett to contribute to Arc Prose Poetry Anthology 2022. He willingly gave his consent to be part of Anthology.

Big Cabin is crafted in three parts; a prose piece cocktail of day-to-day musings, memoir, and philosophy is tucked between two parts pre-verse and post-verse.  Padgett was raised in the lonesome surrounding as he had no siblings though his later life has been teeming in a big family. But the desolation never left him; Here we see a desolatory past metamorphosed into a melancholic mood diluted with stoicism like a song. 

In inserted prose piece of Big Cabin Contemplation, Padgett writes--

“I am writing this in a school notebook whose puzzling name, printed on the front cover in large type, is Completion, with a sort of subtitle: ‘Take your fun where you can find it.’ The notebook was made in Japan, which perhaps offers some explanation of why this peculiar title and subtitle have been joined in such an unlikely place.”

There is a difference between desolation and solitude; in solitude, an endurer learns to make a fine equilibrium with self, so it is somehow becoming a perch of creative endeavors. Padgett went to a cabin for three consecutive years in Vermont, not knowing what he would write. He wrote poems during two of those autumns and prose during the third. He arranged them in a sonata sequence, poem-prose-poem sequence—A-B-A. He seeked bliss in words whirling in simple surroundings. In following poems, he admits his few and simple requirements in life.

In the Winter of 1969--1970

By Ron Padgett

In the winter of 1969--70

I went out to an old shed

behind Fairfield Porter's house

and fired up the coal stove,

cleared a spot on a workbench,

sat down and started translating

the poetry of Blaise Cendrars.

Sometimes the room got so hot

I'd open the door wide open

and outside snow was falling.

It was one of the happiest times of my life.

Padgett’s biggest skill is the plaintive words, crystal- like, created in vernacular language, bestowed with poetic grace. They not only make the cabin a literary space, but through transpiration, the vibrations of the writer’s mind, comes to print and again ascends to the reader’s retina and soul.

Time stops for his musings, he writes–

 Ticking and Tocking


When people say

“Time is running out”

I see an alarm clock

with a bell on top

and with arms and legs

dashing out the door

of a room in which

time has stopped

reminding the human race

that we are running out.

I carry this idea

to a corner of the room

and set it down


I don’t want

to wake it up.

Then I tiptoe away.

If you want suck the stoic’s magic in straw, then go for this book! 

Dr. Pragya Suman

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