Ken Waldman's First Published Poetry Collection in a Decade
Wednesday, November 9, processing Donald Trump's surprise victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Ken Waldman wrote, You make George W. seem a statesman--your opening trick, which he turned into the first line and a half of a sonnet. A week later he wrote two more Donald Trump-inspired sonnets. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, another 68. That's 71 sonnets, a full-length collection. 41 were written in the voice of Donald Trump. The rest were addressed to him. Waldman has decided the book's subtitle, The First 50 Days, could easily be amended to Every 50 Days, or The Next 50 Days. The work is prescient.
Ken Waldman has taken the book to bookstores in Kansas City (Prospero's), Missoula (Fact & Fiction), Spokane (Auntie's), Olympia (Orca Books), Bellingham (Village Books), Seattle (University Book Store), Eugene (Tsunami Books), Albuquerque (Bookworks), and Austin (Malvern Books). At the Austin event, he was joined by Austin multi-instrumentalists, Jerry Hagins and Beth Chrisman, and that one is available on video, both the whole 52-minute program and as 5 1/2-minute sampler, which is right here: https://youtu.be/bW_pUdjRjfo (the video of the whole program is below).
Want a copy of the book? You can buy direct from the SPD website, or you can order from your favorite indie bookstore. Or contact Ken Waldman directly. For the $15 price of the book, plus $5 postage & handling, he'll send you a signed copy by postal mail anywhere within the United States. Want him to come to a favorite bookstore? At all bookstore events he'll read a few poems, talk about the book, and depending on interest will continue on about the book, or will go on to other material, including Alaska poems and stories. He always has his fiddle handy. And often he can bring special guest musicians. January 2018, he went on tour with the sequel, Trump Sonnets, Volume 2. January 2019, he'll have the third in the series, Trump Sonnets, Volume 3.
Trump Sonnets, Volume 1 is itself a sequel to Waldman's 2006 collection, As the World Burns, which was subtitled The Sonnets of George W. Bush and Other Poems of the 43rd Presidency. About that book, Kevin Higgins of nthposition.com wrote:
"More than poetry, they are documents which will help others 50 or 100 years from now, come to grips with what it was like to be in the world in the aftermath of 9/11. . . . As the World Burns is a hugely ambitious book, containing over 60 mostly Petrarchan sonnets. Waldman imagines himself into George W.’s head and goes from there. Scary stuff! It is a rare but great thing to see a contemporary poet working in the satiric tradition of Dryden, Pope, and Swift. . . . It achieves the almost impossible by forcing the reader to come to terms with George W. Bush, the three dimensional human being."
Here's a review of Trump Sonnets, Volume 1 from Grace Cavalieri of the Washington Independent Review of Books. Below that, six videos from the project, including the complete Malvern Books event (that's on the bottom right):
MOST UNUSUAL POEMS
Trump Sonnets by Ken Waldman. Ridgeway Press. 76 pages.
Anything you ever thought about Trump is here. And more. And this is only Volume 1. Good thing we have the First Amendment or this Dude would be an ex pat. Funny and smart though.
To Donald Trump, from Raleigh
Donald, the more I read of your strange ways,
the more mythic you become: you’re truly
rebranding yourself, making history.
Simple villain, you’re perfect for these days,
this absurd 21st century maze
of non-stop information. Look at me,
you roar. Or plead, Or, god forbid, decree.
Madman, swindler, con man. The names don’t faze
you, Donald. I recall an old college
acquaintance who tossed an empty bottle
at a group, then turned away as surprised
young men found glass shatter by them. Enraged,
the group shouted back. I asked the bottle-
thrower: Why? It wasn’t me, he replied.