No Words Wasted Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Win Tickets to Calvin Trillin!

Update: And the winners are...

Update: The deadline has passed! The Calvin Trillin contest is officially closed. Stay tuned for an announcement about the winners.

Reporter, humorist, and poet Calvin Trillin spent the last eight years trying to squeeze some humor from a topic many people did not find amusing: the Bush administration.

When logic failed to convert W's fans, Trillin went with limerick, and in 2004 authored Obliviously on He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme, which was followed up by A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme in 2006.

"We weren't going to know whether you could bring down a presidency with iambic pentameter until somebody tried it," he said.

Like everyone else we know, Trillin is ready for some new material. His latest, Deciding the Next Decider, chronicles the 2008 presidential race and its colorful cast of characters. On Hillary: "Some pundits wrote that Hil's campaign might fare / A little better if Bill wasn't there." And, on John Edwards (remember him?): "Yes, I know he's a mill worker's son, but there's Hollywood in that hair."

A former reporter for Time and the New Yorker, as well as a columnist and weekly poet for the Nation, Calvin Trillin is the author of a dazzling number and range of books: numerous comic novels, a series of memoirs, and multiple collections of poetry.

On February 17, 2009, Trillin will be speaking at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Newmark Theatre as part of the Portland Arts & Lectures series 25th anniversary, which is especially notable given that he was the very first speaker when the series debuted in 1984.

We're giving away five pairs of tickets to this event — but you're going to have to work for it. We want you to stretch your poetry muscle and give us your best rhyme about the inauguration of President Obama in 20 lines or less. Simply leave a comment below, and we'll award tickets to five lucky lyricists, chosen by our staff.

Need some inspiration? Try our homemade verse:

A cold winter morning, the whole world was there
With pride President O. descended the stairs
Silent and still, not an eyelash did bat
But seriously, what was up with Aretha's big hat?

We think you can do better.

Deadline for submitting is midnight PST on February 5, 2009. Click here for official contest rules.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008... Used Hardcover $1.75
  2. Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush...
    Used Hardcover $0.95
  3. A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush... Used Hardcover $2.50

30 Responses to "Win Tickets to Calvin Trillin!"

    The Mayor of Poetry January 23rd, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    W. scowls at the cheering crowd,
    Almost grumbles it aloud:
    "To me they weren't half as nice
    And I even did this thing twice!"

    As the guy on his periphery
    shoots down all his strategery,
    he thinks, "Next try, I won't make
    Dr. Strangelove my running mate."
    Someone should really inform the poor guy:
    He doesn't get another try.

    sasha kaplan January 25th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    At Bush's likeness in wood
    We threw a pile of old shoes
    As his helicopter left for big D,
    Gladly we gave him our boos
    And when Barack's hand went up
    To swear on Lincoln's bible
    Despite Cheif Justice's foible
    We cheered and we teared
    For this was a celebration
    Not to be feared!

    sasha kaplan January 25th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I celebrated the inauguration of Barack Obama in San Francisco, while visiting my neice. As we walked from the BART to Civic Center to watch on a huge TV screen, a non profit there had set up a booth, "Throw a Shoe at George Bush".
    While there was no charge, I would have gladly paid for this pleasure. I cannot clearly express how satisfying it was to throw some smelly old shoes and boots at this life size likeness of George W. It was attached to a long wooden rod which allowed someone from the organization to move it back and forth and turn it into a moving target, penny arcade carnival-style.
    It allowed me to vent 8 horrible years of the past administration out of my body. A few minutes later when we reached the gathering to watch on the wide screen tv, I was relaxed yet energized.
    I loved too that I got to share this day with my neice who is in her late 20s. All the buses I ever boarded at midnight from Brown University, headed to DC for a morning anti war(Viet Nam) rally, all were truly worth the effort, to see Barack Obama get sworn in last Tuesday.

    mj January 25th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Give me a chance , to see if we can dance.

    Dina Roberts January 26th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Chilly January morning, warm hearts
    Black President, female Senator starts
    It’s feeling more democratic, this new political demographic
    High hopes, the last eight years smarts
    This thing called hope, it’s gotta last
    No going back, to the divides of the past
    A new day, a bright day, a day unlike any other
    I’m looking you in the eye today, mother, brother, sister, lover
    Let’s get started on this journey today
    No time to delay
    It’s a brand new way

    Kim Simmie January 26th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Obama, impressive in your grace and presidential stature,
    say responsibility is ours; well, right back atcha.

    Morgan January 27th, 2009 at 2:47 am

    There once was a man from Tex-as...
    ...But who cares?
    We'd rather have a beer, en masse
    With someone who shares
    The love of our country,
    So I'll dispense with pleasantry,
    Who cares if the door hits your ass.

    Daniel Robinson January 27th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Obama came up from Chi-town to the D.C.
    Can he save the economy? Make people free?
    Bush is long gone he's hangin with the cattle,
    while young me and women are in Iraq, amidst the battle.
    What we fighting for? No one really knows why,
    a prolonged war, no end, just life when people die.
    What's been gained? a big mess passed on,
    Obama can do it now that Tex is gone.

    Melinda Ackles January 28th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Millions flooded the National Mall,
    Bundled and shivering in the cold.
    A singular purpose uniting them all--
    Their votes had screamed “Out with the old!”
    The frostbitten millions were not done in,
    Although John Roberts stumbled,
    For when Barack was sworn in,
    Joy from their hearts tumbled.
    And yes, Ms. Alexander’s poem was flat,
    But man, I dug Aretha’s hat!

    cattwmn January 28th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    WTG Morgan!

    cattwmn January 28th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    We rallied, we door knocked,
    Our grassroots were showing.
    We phoned our neighbors,
    We got the vote rolling.
    The efforts of many,
    The Victory priceless.
    Thank God that Dubya
    Is finally powerless.

    justin castillo January 28th, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Everything was going so smooth and tastefully
    Until we came to the word "faithfully"
    But nothing could stop the balls down pat
    From observing Aretha's huge hat
    If you attended in spirit or brought your fiance,
    You know the most beautiful guest was Beyonce.

    Jonathan January 28th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Homage to you President Obama
    For the spectacular pomp and drama.
    Celebration was grand
    All day you be the man!
    Then booty-bumped your way through the gala.

    The rhyming reverend gave us a good laugh.
    Justice Roberts committed an oath gaff.
    What a sight to behold
    Thousands standing in cold
    To welcome the nation’s new BFF.

    You’re eloquent in extolling a sentence
    Though you swore on a bible then didn’t.
    Dubayu and Darth Vader
    Never see you later.
    The change of hope needs no remittance.

    CarolCarol January 29th, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Tears streaming down face
    Watching the oath repeated
    Thank God, 'Free at last!'

    Barbara Kochevar January 30th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Would love to hear him speak about his books.

    Alyson January 31st, 2009 at 8:17 am

    The President is all smiles
    As he waves to the masses,
    Then gets on with the business
    Of solving years of mismatches.

    He takes a pen
    And makes his official mark,
    Deeming years of past thoughts
    A hit sailing out of the park.

    Jane Carol January 31st, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Calm intelligence
    Change we needed, delivered
    Barack Obama

    AnneJ February 2nd, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama
    Said Spike Lee
    Said I
    I had to cry
    Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama
    My chant was heard by millions
    Millions chanted
    Even my dog smiled and panted
    Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama

    ahamon February 2nd, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I'd like to win this book.

    Marsha Abelman February 2nd, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Oh, the misspeaks and charm
    Of W - the President 43!
    Often I sprained my arm
    Or even wrenched my knee.
    (to turn the TV off -when he spoke!)

    But happily now I embrace
    Obama - for whom I did cheer!
    With smiles wreathing my face
    I watched inauguration this year.
    (and turned the TV loud -when he spoke!)

    Oh, how I would love to hear Trillin
    Discuss Obama and Trillin's new book
    In fact, I would find it most thrillin'
    If you gave my poem a look.
    (and gave me tickets to Schnitzer -when he speaks!)

    Meteormom February 3rd, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    A multi-generational gathering
    to watch a new guy sworn in
    and say "adieu"
    to the old,
    and welcome to the new.

    D.Supplitt February 3rd, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    O is for the Optimisum this country holds for thee,
    B is for the Breadth of hope our communties now hold the key.
    A is for the Ampere the message sent, faith, spirit and hope.
    M is for the Mighty task that lies befor this humble man,
    A is for the cry heard for freedom "YES WE CAN!"

    D.Supplitt February 3rd, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    O is for the Optimism this country holds for thee,
    B is for the Breadth of hope, our communities now hold the key.
    A is for the Ampere the message sent; faith, spirit and hope.
    M is for the Mighty task that lies before this humble man,
    A is for the Almighty cry heard for our nation’s freedom,"Yes WE

    Lucie Thomas February 3rd, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    There once was a man named Obama
    Whose quest caused many alarm-a
    But he did win the race
    By building his base.
    What a crowd there was at the mall-a.

    geoff February 4th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Sunday’s concert couldn’t have been finer:
    James Taylor sang, ‘In my mind, we won North Carolina.’

    The Boss—up from Jersey--brought a whole choir singing,
    Urging the crowd to come on up to the Rising.

    In a shocking development, Bono was there
    With his wraparound shades keeping out the cold air.

    I’m not sure how he did it, maybe through a friend-of-a-friend,
    How else to explain the presence of John Legend?

    Sheryl Crow delighted in the crowd from many places.
    Even Stevie Wonder could see the smiles on millions of faces.

    Beyonce sang ‘America the Beautiful’ with a voice that brought tears
    Not unlike when people realized they paid full price for ‘I Am…Sasha Fierce.’

    ‘We Are One’ encapsulated the day’s vibe for me and you;
    I just hope it didn’t double as a Tiger Woods golf-ball-advertising coup.

    Then the inauguration went down, jubilation warmed the Mall.
    After Sunday’s dazzling concert lineup, they must’ve had Jay-Z perform at the Ball.

    ‘Yes, We Can’ was produced by, you see:
    A song to let everyone know this about Barack Obama: the new Prez.he.b.

    Val February 5th, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Inaugural poem (with a tip of the hat to W.B. Yeats)

    There they were, at dawn of day, with vivid faces,

    coming to hear Lowry and Warren pray, and see the 21st century woman arrayed

    in a moth-green gossamer of hope rising and gleaming as our new President strolled forth

    to nod calmly at Laura, her smile beaming overdue divorce. Awaiting fine-tuning,

    and the national turning of the fork, anticipating no more

    odor from the Oval Office of sulfur and pork --

    all strolled out into the wintry air of hope and dreaming.

    It was a hope greater than they could bear, those thugs

    of eight interminable years: George Bush, breeze ruffling rat-

    brown hair, his conscience no worse for wear; and still-scowling

    Cheney, feigning back strain, ensconced in wheelchair,

    determined not to stand and salute the sanguine and straight-faced, not

    even Biden -- and everybody knew there was nothin’ he was hidin’!

    Alas, if only Roberts could correctly place adverbs, and do his part,

    Cheney would no more execute by memo his enemies, nor his heart --

    and the music soar, as afterward the crowd gazed, incredulous,

    hearing above, at last, a whirring steel bird alight, engines racing relief --

    yes, here all is changed, changed beyond belief. Now W, his day done,

    his mouth a terse pink slip as the days of rage pass, slouches up the ramp

    toward Texas, to the unvoiced cry “Don’t let that door hit you in the ass!”

    Natasha S February 5th, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Millions with hope in their eyes as they stare
    It seemed as if no one had less of a care
    Skeptical me, more critical than that
    Dont get my hopes up for no ones big hat
    Im not sentimental for big mall parties
    No matter whose speaking in front of the yard-e
    To believe this country has a prez whose not lag-in
    Ill need to see change before Im on that wagon
    I do hope he succeeds, I am no Limbaugh
    Just to used to Bush Jargon, to believe all the hoop-blah.

    Eileen D February 5th, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Here's the story of President Barack Obama,
    born to a Kenyan father and a Kansas momma,
    people said "no you can't,"
    but he said, "Yes We Can!,"
    and John McCain was a goner.

    The Obamas moved into the White House,
    So did "Grandma" and a puppy that's gonna,
    So I say Hooray, t'was a wonderful day,
    that brought our country
    much honor!

    Morgan S. Jones February 5th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Here's my inaugeral doggerel, which is entitled:


    Masses huddled around the reflecting pool
    To find common ground: a better land
    Where adherence to the law is a rule
    Not trumped by executive legerdemain.

    Oaths are taken and power shifts.
    Like mighty waters the people roar.
    Change mandate delivered. Spirits lift
    And the arc of the universe bends once more.

    The Decider and his Eminence Grise
    Wheel off to the well of oblivion.
    Ex-executives. They've ceased to be.
    Now they're just has-been politicons.

    Lady Liberty has passed the torch
    Without riot, disorder, or any slaughter.
    As for Barack - the economy's scorched.
    Is it too much to hope he can walk on water?

    Laura Brown February 6th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Festivities started on the wing of a song
    From a list of who’s who that was ever so long

    The thrill in the air had the crowds all a twitter
    As they witnessed a moment of history’s glitter

    A world famous cellist playing music unheard
    Eventually forgot that mum was the word

    Who knows what will happen to the cheer of the throng
    When they finally realize, The oath was all wrong

Post a comment:

Get Your Gravatar

  1. Please note:
  2. All comments require moderation by staff.
  3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at