DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Presidential Race Goes to the Dogs

Let the Barking and Biting Begin
Mitt Romney puts Seamus on top of the car.
("He liked it up there, and we weren't going far.")
Obama, in boyhood, while in Indonesia,
Once swallowed some dog meat without anesthesia.
Though dog lover's wouldn't be either man's base,
A dogfight seemed what was in store for the race.
And people were saying, "We wonder which dude'll
Emerge as the pit bull, and which as the poodle."

When Calvin Trillin, long-time New Yorker magazine writer, humorist, author of 30 books, and America's deadline poet, began thinking of a title for his verse book on the 2012 presidential race, he didn't have to ponder long. "Dogs were prominent right away," Trillin told the fan-filled crowd which packed Politics and Prose recently to hear him talk about his latest book Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse. Trillin may be America's deadline poet (he claims to be the only one and he's probably right), but his in-person persona is perfect comic deadpan, a cross between Bob Newhart and Bob Dole. And speaking of Bob Dole, Trillin says he always loved him as a candidate. Bob Dole. Old King Cole. Sauteed escarole.

In between cascades of high-brow and low-brow laughter, Trillin described his work as a long poem, "let's not be afraid of the word epic here," interrupted by shorter poems and what he calls pause prose.

Trillin, who produced a similar work in 2008, said initially he was fearful of the project because only the Republicans would be having a 2012 primary. But that concern soon evaporated when the GOP field began uttering some of the most inane remarks ever heard on the national stage. "I mean this was a field where Michelle Bachmann was actually leading in the polls," Trillin said. He immortalized Ms. Bachmann in his work by parodying the Paul McCartney/John Lennon tune "Michelle" (with apologies to the Beatles).
Michelle, our belle,
Thinks the gays will all be sent to hell.
That's Michelle.

One of the best titled short prose pauses of all-time is "Calixta Gingrich, Aware That Her Husband Has Cheated on and Then Left Two Wives Who Had Serious Illness, Tries Desperately to Make Light of a Bad Cough." Then there is the outrageously hilarious prose pause "President Romney Meets Other World Leaders at His First G-8 Summit," which creates the absurdity that ensues when Romney employs his strange, awkward habit of trying to guess nationalities and personal weights on the leaders of the world.  When Trillin read the short piece, most of the Politics and Prose crowd convulsed in spasms of laughter.

Asked if he had any favorite political figures, Trillin quipped that he liked iambic characters such as Ross Perot or Herman "The Heminator" Cain. He also lamented that he used up many of his best rhymes for Obama (like slap your Momma) in his 2008 pieces. He also appears to have some strong feelings about at least one possible member of the 2016 field. "I always refer to Bill Clinton as the orange (as in no word rhymes with orange) candidate. As for Mrs. Clinton (the current favorite to run on the Democratic ticket), Hilary has strong points, but rhyming isn't one of them," Trillin said.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Like many of the authors who appear at Politics and Prose, Trillin is on an around-the-country tour to promote his latest work. And for famous authors like Trillin, that tour usually includes appearances on popular TV shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report. You can check out Trillin's recent performance on The Daily Show, by clicking here.

Blog Archive

Popular Posts