Written over three seasons in a Vermont cabin, these poems by one of the nation's most beloved poets act as a reflecting pool, casting back mortality, consciousness, and time in new, crystal-clear light.
Padgett writes in a relaxed, vernacular style. His poems often remind me of cartoon thought balloons floating above a solitary figure who has just had a revelation ... As a poet, Padgett’s poems make me gnash my teeth. Although I am sure this is not at all the case, I keep getting the sense that they came to him as naturally as a dog wagging his tail. He makes it all looks so easy, so effortless ... I sense something dark flowing beneath the surface of these self-mocking poems, filled with moments of lightness and tender humor ... A lot of readers have pointed out how generous, funny, playful, and witty Padgett’s poems are. While these characterizations feel true, it seems to me that one of the motivations driving the poems is the poet’s desire for knowledge, which he pursues without making any grand claims for this yearning. It is Padgett’s craving that animates his writing, and keeps him alert to the small and easily dismissed moments that make up our everyday lives.
... [Padgett's] short, quotidian observations are profound for their simplicity and occasional absurdity ... Padgett’s way of literally presenting reality creates a postmodernist’s world ... When he’s not thumbing his nose at language, he’s writing silly homages to sandwiches and chickadees. Both are deeply pleasing to read and would probably be right at home if shared on your newsfeed.
In spite of his purported pursuit of revelations concerning quietude, mindful presence, and aloneness, in Big Cabin, Ron Padgett exposes the interconnectivity of past and present, the ways our conception of self is defined in relation to others, and how our inescapable sentience and use of language is what both connects and estranges us from the world around us ... Just as moods and opinions waver while the self maintains a fundamental cohesiveness, the essay and poems contained in Big Cabin shift rapidly, often from line-to-line, in perspective and tone, while thematically complimenting each other ... The reflective commentary that Padgett includes in his text centers his poetry in a place of immediacy—that elusive sensation that he seems to be chasing throughout the collection. Nonetheless, he is trailed by his past, by his youthhood which crops up as a voice of judgment or whimsy ... In his poem 'Sweeping Away,' he resolves to not write poetry, yet in doing so he subjects the poem to a place of reflection upon the process of reflection. In another instance he uses fun, meaningless sound-words like 'glump glump' to delight in the act of making sound—this may be the closest Padgett comes to being fully present in the collection, however, its function is to probe into the idea of language stripped of communication and therefore is again inextricably tied to the process of sentient reflection.