Calvin Trillin waxes poetic on campaign

  • Article by: LAURIE HERTZEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2012 - 12:13 PM

Calvin Trillin

Photo: Richard Drew, Associated Press

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Calvin Trillin is many things -- an enthusiastic eater, a wonderful reporter, a graceful writer. He is also funny. Oh, he is funny. For years he has covered the world of politics for the Nation as its "deadline poet," and his new book, "Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse" (Random House, $16), is written almost entirely in rhyme, with only an occasional "pause for prose."

His poetry isn't lovely; it gallops forward in a thundering rhythm like a team of horses. But it is compulsively readable.

His look at the presidential campaign begins, as presidential campaigns do, four years earlier, with the election of Barack Obama. Trillin takes us through the endless summer of primaries, reminds us of faded-from-our-memories candidates ("We've spent a month of this campaign /in trying daily to explain / the steady rise of Herman Cain"), grins in Minnesota's direction with verses about Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann ("Michele, our belle, they're no longer buying what you sell").

Funny, yes, but tinged with anger ("pampered billionaires" with "wads of dirty money in their fists"). These poems will bring back the whole long campaign in excruciating detail.

Trillin turned in the final poem on Nov. 7, right after the election, because the other thing that Trillin is: He's fast.

He'll speak at Talk of the Stacks on Thursday, a welcome makeup session after last year's health-related cancellation. Nice to know he's back in the pink, and still rhyming.

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302


    The New Yorker writer will be the next Talk of the Stacks speaker. He'll be at the Central Library on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis at 7 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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