The title of Ron Padgett's most recent collection of poetry is How to Be Perfect, and it's one that's presumably meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Yet frankly, a lot of the advice in the title poem isn't too bad. Though "Make eye contact with a tree" perhaps isn't the easiest thing to accomplish, "Don't use the word extirpate too often" and "Stay out of jail" seem reasonable. The translator, memoirist, and poet's writing spans the gamut of human emotions and contemplation, as good poetry should. His latest collection shifts effortlessly from mundane things such as obsessing over whether to eat a muffin to the weird assertion that Geoffrey Chaucer moved in a style similar to stop/start animation, to genuinely asking bigger questions like, Why are we so mean? Perhaps we would be less mean if we followed his advice on how to be perfect. Garrison Keillor hosts this reading sponsored by his bookstore, Common Good Books.
Sun., Nov. 18, 2 p.m., 2007