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Calvin Trillin

Verse Columnist

Calvin Trillin, the author of Random House’s Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Election in Rhyme, is The Nation‘s “deadline poet.” He has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for forty years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His wry commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice—a 2007 New York Times best seller that was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece”—followed two other best-selling memoirs, Remembering Denny and Messages from My Father.


  • Politics July 12, 2001

    A Strong Dollar Clouds Prospects For Quick Rebound

          --Headline, New York Times

    The dollar's strong. That must be good.
    It's doing what a dollar should.
    Not so.
    The world cannot afford our junk.
    You see: It's never what you thunk.
    Go know!

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics June 28, 2001

    A New, Simpler Analysis of the Recent Bush-Putin Summit

    Bush and Putin talk together,
    To each other's charms succumb.
    Bush thinks Putin can be trusted.
    Putin thinks that Bush is dumb.

    Bush and Putin end their meeting,
    Smile until their mouths are numb.
    Bush thinks Putin can be trusted.
    Putin thinks that Bush is dumb.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics June 21, 2001

    A Former Fraternity President Deals With the Nuclear Proliferation Issue

    Though Bush intends to drop the missile treaty,
    He's happy that this Putin guy's so neat, he
    Will prove to be the nicest sort of Roosky.
    So just relax, and crack yourself a brewski.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics June 14, 2001

    Post-Jeffords Slippery Slope in the Senate

    If Georgia's Miller did decide
    He's really on the other side,
    The Democrats might then connive
    To make Strom prove he's still alive.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics June 7, 2001

    The Republicans and John McCain

    They thought that Jeffords was their bane,
    But now they see that John McCain,
    Who shrugs off efforts to restrain
    His longtime love of speaking plain,
    And likes to jerk George Bush's chain
    And demonstrate complete disdain
    For rules Republicans maintain,
    Could cause them even greater pain--
    Could, thinking he's the knight Gawain
    (Or pilot of a fighter plane),
    Just bolt, and run his own campaign
    To be a sagebrush Charlemagne.

    In him they don't know what they've got.
    One thing's for sure: Trent Lott he's not.

    Calvin Trillin

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  • Politics May 31, 2001

    On the Gradual End of the Estate Tax

    For years, estates of wealthy men were taxed--
    The sort of thing that spoils a nice goodbye.
    The tax will disappear by 2010.
    And then the rich will find it safe to die.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics May 25, 2001

    Brilliant Legal Tactics By Raoul Felder

    So Rudy's lawyer, playing the piranha,
    Decided he'd gain ground by dissing Donna.
    The judge, appalled that anyone could be
    As crude as that, then squashed him like a flea.
    The lesson litigants should now acquire?
    When looking for a lawyer, you should hire,
    Unless you want your fortunes going south,
    A mouthpiece with a somewhat smaller mouth.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics May 17, 2001

    The FBI in Peace and War

    The FBI knows every way
    To put a case in disarray.
    For years they managed to mislay
    Some tapes a Birmingham DA
    Could use against the KKK.
    Because some files had gone astray
    It seems that Timothy McVeigh
    Will live to die another day.
    The FBI knows every way
    To put a case in disarray.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics April 19, 2001


    The corporate types are firmly in control.
    The Russians, it appears, have sent a mole
    To steal our secrets. And the Chinese wait
    For tension to develop in their Strait.
    It's all so fifties! Wouldn't it be weird
    If Engine Charlie Wilson reappeared?

    Calvin Trillin