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 Fried, Alice, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
They'll check for salmonella, kids,
It's safe as mozzarella, kids,
Light up a panatella, kid.
You've nothing more to fear.
Give thanks for this new fella, kids.
Sing praises a cappella, kids.
Let Bush be your umbrella, kids.
Compassion's finally here.
McCain and Feingold seem to have Big Mo:
Soft money could now face a total ban.
Which means some folks who've bought pols in the past
Need now select a different purchase plan.
Yes, arsenic's in what we drink.
That's not as scary as you think.
Sure, hidden in the stroganoff
It's used for knocking people off.
But in your water it's OK.
That's what the mining interests say.
And W. now says so, too.
It mixes well with CO
Yes, W. once took the view
He says he's had a turnabout:
We make this stuff when breathing out,
So dangerous is what it's not.
From lobbyists you learn a lot.
But won't our ozone cover scatter?
So? Nader said it wouldn't matter.