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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.


  • Regions and Countries May 16, 2002

    A Solution at Last

    Likud says it does not anticipate
    That Palestinians will have a state.
    So they, in turn, are meant to stop this shrying,
    And try to make their peace with occupying.

    Calvin Trillin

  • World Leaders May 9, 2002

    A Short History of the French Presidential Election

    In Paris it began to look
    Like Jacques Chirac was just a crook,
    But voters voted for him when
    He ran against Le Pen again.
    Though graft is certainly a curse,
    They figured there are things far worse.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Environment May 2, 2002

    The Saudis and Their Oil Rigs

    (Sung to the tune of "The Farmer and the Cowman" from Oklahoma!)

    The Saudis and their oil rigs are our friends.
    Oh, the Saudis and their oil rigs are our friends.
    They can bomb us when they please, we need gas for SUVs.
    We're infidels, but we can make amends.
    Petrobusiness pals must stick together.
    All the guzzlers' gas tanks must be filled.
    We'll protect the Saudis' border
    While they preach we should be killed.
    They teach their kids the Protocols of Zion.
    It's jail for women if their hair is showing.
    They say that we're corrupt and that we're wicked.
    We say, "Whatever. Keep that petrol flowing."
    Petrobusiness pals must stick together.
    All the guzzlers' gas tanks must be filled.
    We'll protect the Saudis' border
    While they preach we should be killed.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Political Figures April 18, 2002

    A Survey Offering Democrats Two Responses to the Return of Al Gore

    Al Gore is back:
          (1) Alas
          (2) Alack

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics April 11, 2002

    Elizabeth Dole

    Get set again for Liddy Dole.
    She's back, to let the good times roll.
    She's entering another race,
    Her hair and diction all in place.
    (Her hair is even more precise
    Than that of Condoleezza Rice.)
    Her problem is that she's been cast
    As someone with a Beltway past.
    Although she's Carolina bred,
    She left her home to get ahead.
    And now they say her luggage tag
    Says DC--on a carpetbag.
    "But ahm from heah," she'll say to all.
    She'll say it in a Tarheel drawl.
    The drawl alone should do the trick,
    Unless she lays it on too thick--
    Unless the voters say, in candor,
    "We simply cannot understand her."

    Calvin Trillin


  • Regions and Countries April 4, 2002

    The Middle East Troubles: A Summary

    They give each other tit for tat.
    The next tat may get Arafat.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics March 28, 2002

    Nixon Library Woes

    The daughters, Trish and Julie, now aren't speaking.
    Without more dough, the roof will soon be leaking.
    It really isn't clear just who's in charge.
    Most tapes and papers still remain at large.
    The tapes may show, when they're where they belong,
    The Jews have caused these troubles all along.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Religion March 21, 2002

    2002 Remake of Boys’ Town

    He ain't heavy, Father, he's my brother.
    I can take him by myself from here.
    Also, after what we've all been reading,
    We don't like to have you priests too near.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Racism and Discrimination March 14, 2002

    Billy Graham’s Explanation of His Taped Conversation With Richard Nixon

    He says that what he said about the Jews
    (They own and thus manipulate the news)
    Is not, of course, reflective of his views.
    So what part of the news did those Jews lose?

    Calvin Trillin

  • Politics March 7, 2002

    The Bush Plan for a Shadow Government

    A place was found for Mr. Cheney
    Where, even if the missiles rain, he
    Can carry on his governing nonstop.
    They then found bunkers down so far
    That closed-lip Bushies even are
    More secretive than they have been on top.

    So if some heinous act occurred,
    Our continuity's assured:
    The government will run forevermore.
    And since the Congress has no caves,
    There'll be no Waxmans to make waves--
    Which should make things much smoother than before.

    Calvin Trillin