Deadline Poet, Or, My Life as A DoggerelistBook - 1994
Could there be anyone else who was inspired to write poetry by the presence of John Sununu? Maybe so, but only Calvin Trillin came up with a piece of verse called If You Knew What Sununu. Ever since it appeared in print, in 1990, he has been a weekly gadfly in verse for The Nation, delighting readers with his rhyming observations on the news of the day. As his deadline approached every week, his inspiration came from, among many others, George Bush (You did your best in your own way, / The way of Greenwich Country Day) and H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Saddam Hussein and Jerry Brown and Clarence Thomas and Ross Perot and Princess Diana and Zoe Baird (She'd done this deed to get au paired) and Robert Dole and someone called Wanderin' Willie Clinton, who sings the I got the movin' to the middle 'cause it's slip'ry on the edges blues. Here, in prose as sparkling as the verse that accompanies it, Trillin describes his evolution from a special-occasions poet into a deadline poet, and comments on the events that inspired his weekly verse. The result is an irresistible entertainment that also turns out to be an antic history of three years of American life that were particularly rich in material for someone who describes his job this way: The news presents a motley little band / That I observe, tomato in my hand.