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Calvin Trillin | The Nation

Calvin Trillin

Author Bios

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 Yorkerfor 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.

Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army, and then joined Time. After a year covering the South from the Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York.

In 1963, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called "U.S. Journal"—3,000-word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer's wife in Iowa to the author's effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee's "or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying." Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book that was described by William Geist in the New York Times Book Review as "that rarity, reportage as art."

From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called "simply the funniest regular column in journalism." From 1986 through 1995, the column was syndicated to newspapers. From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books.

Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. In 2004, he published Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme. A sequel, A Heckuva Job, was published in 2006. Both were New York Times best-sellers.

Trillin's books have included three comic novels (most recently the national best-seller Tepper Isn't Going Out) and a collection of short stories and a travel book and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Three of his antic books on eating—American FriedAlice, Let's Eat, andThird Helpings—were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy.

He lectures widely, and has appeared often as a guest on television. He has written and presented two one man shows at the American Place Theater in New York—both of them critically acclaimed and both sell outs. In reviewing "Words, No Music," in 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin "the Buster Keaton of performance humorists."

Calvin Trillin is a trustee of the New York Public Library, a former trustee of Yale and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Articles

News and Features

It may not do much good to beg her
To cast her vote for Schwarzenegger:
His flicks, the tales make pollsters rate her
A hater of the Terminator.

Well, yes, we may have used the word "appease."

We may have called you weenies who munch cheese.
But now we're asking nicely for your aid--

"The nerve! Not so! That word still rankles."
"You're sinking. I can't see your ankles."
"The thugs are here; we now just squeeze."

The White House said, although it wasn't true,
Iraq must be invaded, PDQ,
Since terrorists, who'd caught us unaware,
Were with Iraq, and always gathered there.

Sleep tight. There's no one making much ado.
So sleep this night, Big O--in peace, sleep through it.
The folks you bombed now never mention you.

(From the new musical by George Bush & Karl Rove, The Buck
Stops There.)

Aha! So Tenet is the guy
Responsible for Bush's lie
About the Niger A-bomb deal
That from the start was quite unreal.
The Niger lie's off Tenet's chest.

So what if it's private, in their hacienda?
It's sodomy still, and enough to offend a
Respectable man, and we must never lend a
Leg up to that vile homosexual agenda!

Dejectedly, a man sits on the ground.
The man has been detained. His hands are bound.
His crime is truly simple to explain:
Possessing pictures of Saddam Hussein.

Preferring death to getting caught,
She emptied weapons as she fought.
Though shot and stabbed she didn't flinch.
She battled on, did Private Lynch.
Or did she?