The HyperTexts

Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?

Is Joseph Charles MacKenzie the English language's greatest lyric poet ever, as has been claimed on his website, or is he a pretender to the throne, an emperor sans clothes?

Do great poets sing each other's praises in broken English? That's what MacKenzie and his friends do, copying and pasting each other's pidgin praise to their websites and/or "publishing" it via the Society of Classical Poets. If MacKenzie is the great poet and literary figure he claims to be, why is his personal website littered with linguistic rubbish? When a poet's website couldn't pass a sixth grade grammar test, how can he claim to be one of the Immortals?

In my original review, which you can read by clicking the hyperlinked name of the group, I suggested that The Society of Classical Poets should consider a name change to The Keystone Scops. I am now suggesting that MacKenzie should consider officially changing his name to Muck the Magnificent. I base this suggestion on certain vastly pretentious things MacKenzie has said about himself, which I quote in the first section below, and the way he keeps mucking things up rather than living up to his grandiose claims.

However, before I cite the worst of MacKenzie in order to refute those claims, I must admit that his poetry is not uniformly terrible. For example his "Sonnet XXX" seems like a reasonably good effort, if one doesn't object to the somewhat dated, courtly style. While I don't think MacKenzie's best poems come remotely close to challenging those of the greatest lyric poets, he is capable of writing readable poetry from time to time, which is more than I can say for some of his SCP peers. What sets MacKenzie apart and invites nicknames like Muck the Magnificent is his unbelievable pretentiousness. Who says such things about themselves? Who would say such things even if they were true?

What we have in MacKenzie, I believe, is a minor poet of limited ability who is not consistently good, yet makes it sound as if his poetry is the height of all art. There is also evidence of considerable intolerance and bigotry in his poetry and prose. I will now present evidence to support my case ...

by Michael R. Burch

Related Pages: A Review of the Society's Literary Journal, Laureates 'R' US, Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?, Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic, James Sale's Blue Light Special, Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?, "How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Salemi's Dilemma, Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets

Joseph Charles MacKenzie "Mucks" Up Literary Criticism

These are things Joseph Charles MacKenzie the literary critic has said about Joseph Charles MacKenzie the poet, or that he has quoted. These claims have been made about MacKenzie on his personal website and/or the SCP website:
Muck is northern New Mexico's third traditional lyric poet (after two poets unknown to 99.9% of the reading public; Thus by his own admission Muck would be a minor poet, at best.)

Muck is New Mexico's "first traditional lyric poet." (Muck is quickly moving up the poetic ladder, according to Muck, but this is not Shakespeare territory ... yet.)

Muck's sonnets mark "a significant paradigm shift in the history of Anglo-American poetry." (A shift toward self-aggrandizement, perhaps?)

Muck's latest book contains "major poetry by a major poet." (Did Muck join the army and get promoted from captain?)

Muck is "one of the foremost sonneteers in the world." (How quickly "major" advancement comes, when one engages in self-promotion!)

Muck's sonnets have "surpassed many of Shakespeare's." (Not just one or two! A whole bunch!)

Muck has produced "the finest, most beautiful lyric verse the world has not seen in over 100 years." (Well, the "not seen" part seems accurate, at least.)

Muck has produced "the finest, most beautiful lyric poetry ever produced in our language." (Muck has now promoted Muck to the top of the class, ahead of Shakespeare as a lyric poet!)
With that final grandiloquent statement I am forced to conclude either that Muck is the greatest lyric poet in the history of the English language, or that the "big fish" has been getting bigger and bigger, exponentially. I am going to lean toward the second theory. I will give my reasons below, quoting the would-be-Shakespeare-bester himself. But first I will address another question ...

Is Joseph Charles MacKenzie a Fraud?

Is Joseph Charles MacKenzie a real person, only semi-real, or an outright fraud? There are reasons to suspect that his website, bios and other communications may contain fraudulent or "exaggerated" information. 

Here is one reason for my doubts. Muck claims that he won the "Henry M. Austin Poetry Prize." But I have been unable to find any evidence that such a prize exists, or that Muck won it, apart from his claim and his fellow scops quoting it. Muck claims the prize was awarded by the Witter Bynner Foundation, but I have been unable to find any evidence of that organization having anything to do with the elusive prize. Furthermore, Muck says he won the prize "for my translations of some important sonnets of the French Renaissance (into Middle English)." That sounds like a joke. Who would translate poems into Middle English? To my knowledge there was only one poet of note who ever did such a thing: Thomas Chatterton. Chatterton was accused of fraud for trying to pass off his pseudo-medieval poems as the work of Thomas Rowley, a poet who never existed. Has Muck given us a YUGE clue that he's a fraud and doesn't really exist except as the creation of someone else? Is that why he brags so profusely, since no repercussions can fall on the real him (or her)?

Muck says: "One of my professors, an Oxonian named Charles Bell, indicated that some of my sonnets surpassed many of Shakespeare's." Many? That seems incredibly unlikely to me, since Muck consistently falls light years short of Shakespeare. Furthermore, I was unable to find any evidence of a professor named Charles Bell connected to Oxford. There was, however, a Charles Bell whose Charles Bell Motor Company was accused of fraud and eventually went out of business. Another clue, perhaps?  

Muck also claims that his "sequence of 154 sonnets" was awarded "First Place" (notice the impressive capital letters) in the "Long Poem Section" (ditto) of the Scottish International Poetry Competition. (Why 154 sonnets? That's the number of Shakespeare's sonnets published as a quarto in 1609. Once again Muck seems to be claiming some sort of equality with, or supremacy over, the Bard of Avon.) To make a long story short, I was unable to find any evidence that Muck won an award related to the Scottish International Poetry Competition, or any evidence that there ever was a "Long Poem Section" to be won.

Literary types known as "Oxfordians" have claimed that William Shakespeare was a front for the real author of the poems and plays, whom they believe to be Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Putting two and two together, with "Oxonian" and "154 sonnets" have we been given clues that "Joseph Charles MacKenzie" is a front for someone hiding in the shadows? I believe I may have solved the mystery, and the answer appears to be "yes," as revealed in the following section.

In any case, if Muck actually won the awards he claims, they appear to be among the least significant and most transient in the history of literature. Even Google seems to know nothing about them, which suggests they were never mentioned in public by any major publisher or news organ. I can find absolutely no evidence that Muck the Magnificent has ever won a major award of any kind. At best it seems like much ado about very little.

The Real (or Surreal) Joseph Charles MacKenzie is Finally Revealed!

There are pictures of MacKenzie online that appear to be the same man, yet the bios seem radically different. One bio of a Joseph McKenzie (no "a") claims that he "received his M.L.S. from Texas Woman's University School of Library and Information Studies. He is a humble librarian." A humble librarian sans humility, perhaps? The rest sounds like more fun and games. A bio of Joseph Charles MacKenzie tell us: "At St. John's College, where I obtained my B.A. in Literae Humaniores, I read the Nine Lyric Poets of Greece in their original dialects." Does Muck mean that he read aloud fluently in the ancient Greek dialects before an awestruck audience, or that he read slowly and awkwardly at his desk with a translation dictionary handy? Putting the evidence together, are we to believe that MacKenzie writes better sonnets than Shakespeare and is fluent or extremely well-versed (pardon the pun) in modern French, Renaissance French, Middle English and the various dialects of ancient Greece? Or is it more likely that he's a mild-mannered librarian with Walter Mitty-ish delusions of literary grandeur? You can probably guess where my bet gets placed.

The most likely candidate to be the "real" MacKenzie is a New Mexico librarian named Joseph McKenzie (no "a"). But that would make parts of Muck's literary "bio" seem like a bunch of malarkey. The real McKenzie's professional bio is beyond mundane. For instance: "Successfully completed first year Juris Doctor program at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law. Specialized in legal research and writing. Member of student bar association with copy editing duties for law review." And the only foreign language he claims to be proficient in is French. His languages, presumably listed in descending order of competence, are: "French (bilingual), Italian (conversational), Spanish (elementary); Greek (Biblical), Latin (Late Medieval)." Does this mean his Greek is limited to a few words gleaned here and there during Bible studies? In any case, the real McKenzie seems a far cry from the "Joseph Charles MacKenzie" who makes himself sound like a master of multiple languages. And after reading Muck's cumbrous prose, his creaky poetry, and the trash he quotes on his website, one must question even his English language skills.

Whether Muck's literary bios and other forms of bragging are real, fictitious, or embellished, in the end he is notable for one thing above all else: extreme arrogance. Here is one of many examples from his website:

You have boycotted modernist so-called “poetry” for over half a century, but arrogant publishers have ignored your rejection of pseudo-intellectual nonsense in chopped-up prose. Backward old elites have censored traditional lyric poetry because it clashes with their Marxist-totalitarian world view. The result has been complete censorship of traditional lyric verse and the loss of the ability to produce it. The only solution to the crisis is the triumphant appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie’s Sonnets for Christ the King, the first significant body of traditional lyric verse produced since the poems of W.B. Yeats and Charles Péguy.
More examples of Muck's arrogance can be found in his ego-saturated interview with the SCP about his self-alleged masterpiece "Pibroch for [sic] the Domnhall." SCP founder and editor-in-chief Evan "Antic" Mantyk began the interview in true Keystone Scop fashion, by misquoting the title, then proceeded to giddily opine that Muck's inaugural poem was an "atomic bomb" that had "scrambled the molecular makeup of the poetry field so much that it seemed that classical poetry was once again the dominant form." Of course the poem did nothing of the kind. (This can be confirmed by all the subsequent weeping and wailing of the Scops about their sad lot in literary life. According to them nothing changed at all. They remain disenfranchised and ignored.) Muck agreed that his pibroch had "atomic power" even though Trump didn't bother to have the poem read or performed. People tend to notice and remember atomic bombs, but 99.9999% of the world took no notice of Muck's poem and the other .0001% have long since forgotten it. Hell, the poem is so forgettable the scops themselves can't remember its title. And yet Muck went on and on about the poem, saying things like: "The world would not be talking about my 'Pibroch of the Domhnall' at this moment was it not for the lofty technical standards of precision and elegance to which I have always held myself as a poet." Always, really? What about the sentence in which you just bragged about your "lofty standards" and "elegance"? I will cite more mucked-up examples in the following section. But I won't bother you with Muck's really extended bouts of bragging, which might "literally" turn your stomach and put you, as one critic described his plight, on the threshold of hell.

Muck's arrogance may be matched only by his intolerance. For instance, during the interview he said: "Traditional Catholic marriage is an absolute requirement for poets of amatory verse." Thus, no Protestant or adherent of any other religion or non-religion or any unmarried person ever wrote a love poem! Love poetry is solely the province of married Catholics. (Muck must be using "amatory" in the more general sense of "love" because his "amatory" verse that I have read lacks anything resembling passion or sexual desire.)

Here's another example of Muck's intolerance: "No poet has any right to compose a sonnet in English who has not first recited one in Italian." Since there is no evidence that Shakespeare knew Italian well enough to recite sonnetas, he had no right to compose English sonnets, no matter how good they were, according to the only authority who matters, Muck the Magnificent!

During the interview Muck comically refuted his right to be considered a lyric poet when he said: "Caedmon shows us that the first quality of a lyric poet is humility." Since Muck lacks humility, by his own definition he cannot be a lyric poet.

Muck concluded the interview by opining that the changes poetry needs are "already underway" since "the foundation of Evan Mantyk’s Society of Classical Poets in 2012." But surely anyone with any taste for fine writing who has ever read anything written by Antic Mantick knows that he's a talentless hack. And anyone who has read some of the godawful "poetry" he publishes knows that his "Society" website is a laughingstock. If Muck doesn't know such things, what does that tell us about Muck? Is he unable to tell good writing from bad, or is he just a consummate fawner?

I did, however, find at least one true statement on Muck's website: in a moment of transcendent enlightenment James Sale observed that Muck's poetry "disarms the critical intellect." Without a doubt, one would have to disarm the critical intellect in order to believe the hogwash Muck is trying to sell. In his case caveat emptor definitely applies.

Evidence That Muck May, Quite Possibly, Not Be Greater Than Shakespeare After All

Muck has certainly made magnificent claims for himself, but can he live up to them? Would the greatest lyric poet of all time produce clunkers like the following lines, which I combed directly from poems of his published by The Keystone Scops?
Edward, the Cross no more on England’s shores
Thy people blesses ...

Alas, my song cannot unburthen care ...

And just as wax doth melt before the flame ...

Rather would I your holy strains to hear ...

Maria! Be thy name at life's eclipse
The final sound that leaves my dying lips.

Though I be still, my thoughts like roses bloom ...
Those are just a few good (or very bad) examples. Many more can be found by anyone valiant, longsuffering and patient enough to wade through Muck's entire opus. One SCP critic remarked that MacKenzie writes as if in an "Elizabethan time warp." Another observed that he dresses up his poems in "period costumes." In addition to frequently employing wrenching archaisms and inversions, Muck resorts to trite phrases like "oceans blue" in order to achieve end rhyme.

Muck also says things that make little sense to achieve end rhyme, such as "... to fight / Against the German Marxist and his spite." Does one go to war to fight and possibly die over "spite"? Or is "spite" just there to rhyme with "fight"? The poem in question seems to be about World War II because it mentions British soldiers fighting in France, fire raining down from the skies over London, and the "many" owing so much to the "few" (an obvious reference to Winston Churchill's famous ringing declaration). So apparently the "German Marxist" is Hitler, although in reality Hitler was one of the world's fiercest and deadliest anti-Marxists. He sent German communists and socialists to Nazi concentration camps and ordered mass slaughters of Russian communists. So Muck seems to either have a very poor grasp of history or little use for the truth. Does he get his version of "history" from conspiracy theorists and Faux News, perhaps? But all that aside, who would ever say that British soldiers were fighting against Hitler's "spite"? I am forced to conclude that Muck falls far short of Shakespeare and other great lyric poets who didn't settle for easy-but-nonsensical rhymes.

Still, this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg that threatens to leave Muck's reputation in the same condition as the Titanic's ...

On his impressive (or impressed-with-himself) website, MacKenzie informs us that he offers poetry that is "100% Beautiful 100% Meaningful 100% True." His website further informs us that "The appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie's Sonnets for Christ the King, marks a significant paradigm shift in the history of Anglo-American poetry." The wayward comma aside, is it not obvious that we are in the presence of a staggering genius? Muck's breathless press release tells us that his book contains "major poetry by a major poet" and that he is "one of the foremost sonneteers in the world." (Again with the Shakespeare comparisons!) Who has made such extravagant claims for Muck? Another Society mainstay, James Sale, a "Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts." (What, no peerage?) As I pointed out in my review of The Keystone Scops, extravagant claims have also been made for Mr. Sale.

Oddly, Sale has an unnamed reviewer of his review who breathlessly informs us that when one is reviewing a budding Shakespeare, one must really think and plan ahead:
"Sale is also the first reviewer to have recognized that the Sonnets for Christ the King are a veritable sequence, as opposed to a mere collection, of poems. The distinction is significant because it establishes for future scholars a just evaluation of the work as a whole, sparing generations to come the kind of debates that continue to hover above Shakespeare's Sonnets published in 1610."
Now we can all die and rest easy, knowing that Muck's masterpieces will not be judged on their individual merits, nor as a collection, but as a "veritable sequence"! Are you as relieved as I am? Someone really must transport Sale back in time so that we can properly identify Shakespeare's sonnets as a friggin' sequence! Time travel has no higher purpose!

Here is the first sonnet that I found on Muck's impressively verbose website! (Please keep in mind that, as Muhammad Ali once pointed out, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up.") This is the promised 100% Beauty 100% Meaningfulness and 100% Truth:
The Bridge
On the Westminster Bridge Massacre, 22 March 2017
By Joseph Charles MacKenzie

When Wordsworth stood upon that bridge most fair,
And wondered if some gloomy passer-by
Could be so dim that London's majesty
Would never touch his dullness, unaware, ...
And things go rapidly downhill after that very rocky start. Wordsworth may be rolling over in his grave, but probably not with pleasure. And where-oh-where are the consumer protection watchdogs when we really need them? Or take this "poem" Muck tweeted to his Twitter followers (all 19 of them, he's so incredibly popular):
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
The bells of change are clanging.
My lines for Trump came out today,
now bring back death by hanging.
But bad writing and calls for "death by hanging" are not the worst of Muck. Let's take a look at "The Swallows of La Cienega," a very odd "love" poem that almost immediately produced premature ejaculations of praise for ethnic cleansers in the SCP's comments section ...

In his copious notes on the poem, Muck explained that its setting was El Rancho de las Golondrinas ("The Ranch of the Swallows") and that the ranch had been used as "rest stop" by Don Juan Bautista de Anza and his expeditionary force in 1780. De Anza was a far-ranging Conquistador and military adventurer who established the location for the Presidio de San Francisco. According to Muck's gushings, de Anza "saved the northern New Mexico pueblo of Taos by winning a decisive victory against the savages of southern Colorado. So efficient were his military tactics, that, by 1784, he had the barbarians suing for peace." Then, long after his death, de Anza was disinterred and reburied in a "magnificent marble memorial mausoleum." In his word choices, one can feel Muck's reverence for the "civilized" conqueror and his disdain for the backwards victims. De Anza's victims were "savages" and "barbarians" even though he was the one invading their native land to savagely attack and barbarically murder them. Apparently, Muck would have us believe that de Anza deserves to be honored because he was the good guy! Has Muck watched too many John Wayne movies, not realizing they were heavily fictionalized? Has he forgotten or never learned that Conquistador means "conqueror" and that the conquerors of the New World were the ones who ignited the native resistance with their bloody conquests?

De Anza kept a diary, so we know in his own words what really happened. In a diary entry about one military excursion he led against Comanches, de Anza wrote: "With this loss, those which have been referred to, which the Comanches suffered on the 31st, 2nd and 3rd, with that which is stated at the pueblo Taos amount to fifty-eight men and sixty-three women and children, making a total of one hundred and thirty-one persons." (Juan Bautista de Anza, September 10, 1779). That was just a few days' work for de Anza and his lethal charges. How many other women and children did men under de Anza's command kill, in his years of campaigning?

When another poet, James Tweedie, questioned Muck's use of "savages" and "barbarians" to describe Native Americans, Muck was quick to set him straight: "To address your question about the savages, I can assure you that only my Puebloan ancestors, by embracing the Catholic faith, were able to progress along the path of true civilization." (So only Native Americans who converted to Catholicism, probably at the point of a gun to avoid being murdered, were able to "progress" to "true civilization." Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn!) Muck then proclaimed: "It is not by virtue of a people's race that they are savages, but by dint of their behavior." But what about the behavior of "Christians" who murdered men, women and children in their lust for land and gold?

In his usual pompous way, Muck rejected Rousseau's image of the "noble savage" while at the same time trying to make a "Christian" savage seem noble.

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Joseph S. Salemi chimed in with: "God bless the great Columbus and his far-reaching discoveries. And God bless Don Juan Bautista De Anza, the conquistador who founded our Presidio, and who saved Taos from the savage incursions." Of course there was no mention of the fact that the first savage incursions were made by de Anza and his vastly superior military force.

Muck responded to Salemi's grandiose blessings of ethnic cleansers with one of his specialties, incoherent fawning: "So the world is also grateful that it possesses one such as yourself who has been trained in the traditional disciplines of history and philology whith [sic] their irrevocable insistance [sic] on time and place."

According to Muck, Native Americans were very lucky to have been ethnically cleansed, and were even luckier to have been given a portrait of the ethnic-cleanser-in-chief: "My Indian ancestors were, as Fray Alonso de Benevides reports, the most enthusiastic beneficiaries of Spain's wonderful "entrada" into New Mexico, so much so that our Most Christian King of Spain regaled the Acoma people with a significant token of His Majesty's esteem in the form of a portrait of himself which, when I was young, did hang on the Gospel side of the Santuario de San Esteban at Acoma. This has since been removed by the new barbarians of the Indian left, robotically pre-programmed by Berkely's [sic] fascist identity-makers via our local university system, in what has become a desperate attempt to erase the very history which made the Puebloans of New Mexico a good and devout people."

So according to Muck the "only good Injun" is one who bows down to the god and religion of his immensely superior white masters. Muck is sure to become the Poet Laureate of the KKK, unless Salemi beats him to it.

Muck concluded his white supremacist revision of history by calling "Cristobal Colon" the "liberator" of the Americas from the "darkness of pagan oppression and internicean [sic] genocide." Yes, how absolutely wonderful and liberating it was to replace pagan genocide with much more effective "Christian" genocide! The good Lord must be immensely pleased! Praise Christ and pass the communion wafers!

Whether "The Swallows of La Cienega" is a beautiful love poem is a matter of opinion. I would not give it high marks myself, so I tend to doubt Salemi's abilities as a literary critic. But to watch the discussion of a "love" poem disintegrate into expressions of complete disdain for the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide, while their "Christian" abusers and murderers were being showered with glory, was to see poetry become an instrument of racism and intolerance. And that seems to be par for the course with the Keystone Scops.

Muck Quotes Muck

If MacKenzie were a real connoisseur of fine writing, would he repeatedly quote broken English? Here are examples of bad writing that MacKenzie has allowed to muck up his personal website:

James Sale: "We are so used to post-modern poets writing cryptogrammatic verse with obscure imagery, recondite diction, and indulgent, complacent solipsism that we can hardly believe it when someone says clearly what they want to say and tells it like it is—at least like it is for them." In this erudite-sounding passage, the mightily straining vocabularian apparently can't decide if "someone" is singular ["someone ... tells"] or plural ["they want"]. One senses timidity about gender-specific personal pronouns. Which is safer for an emasculated male writer? Surely the androgynous "they"! Is Sale a post-modern gender-bender tipping his cap to feminists by avoiding the masculine "he"? Did he neuter MacKenzie on purpose, or was it by accident? In any case, I believe we can safely conclude that Deep Discount Sale's careful concession to postmodernism, whether an intended castration or the unfortunate byproduct of a defensive hack, strongly suggests that the influence of feminists on the English language is bound to be vastly more profound and far-reaching than that of the impotent Keystone Scops. And it was amusing to hear Mr. Fire Sale preach a sermon about the need for clarity while writing so hazily himself. For instance, what does "complacent solipsism" or any type of solipsism have to do with writing clearly, or unclearly? Mr. Garage Sale just proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that non-solipsists can write murkily with the worst of them!  

Moving forward, here we have a nameless reviewer, presumably the grammar-challenged founder of the Keystone Scops, Evan Mantyk: "Dr. Salemi opens his review in [by] referencing the many obstacles facing openly religious poetry nowadays ..."

Ibid: "One of the qualities of today's Ars Poetica Nova poets, is a certain erudition, a vibrant love of languages and history." But erudite writers would know the first comma is wrong. And what on earth does erudition have to do with "vibrant love"? Is "one" quality being discussed, or more than one?

Ibid: "In discussing how MacKenzie’s work will be received in the context to [of] the current literary crisis arising [which has arisen] from a century of anti-intellectual modernism in the arts and human letters [are there any non-human letters?]…"

MacKenzie's website is littered with such trash. Thus how can anyone take his pretensions to literary stardom seriously? 

Reader Observations about Joseph Charles MacKenzie aka Muck the Magnificent

For those uninitiated into the wonders blunders of Muck the Magnificent, he has claimed to be New Mexico's "first lyric poet." New Mexico has been a state since 1912, but only Muck has managed to write a lyric poem! Or does he want us to believe that he is the best lyric poet New Mexico has to offer, just because he says so? Muck's website contains the modest claim that his sonnets are better than "many" of Shakespeare's. Muck promises to "elevate the human mind and heart to God through the finest, most beautiful lyric poetry ever produced in our language." His ego apparently knows no bounds (although his poetry certainly does.) Muck also wrote an "inaugural" poem for Trump that was neither solicited nor acknowledged by Trump or his campaign, to anyone's knowledge. Here are some reader observations about Muck's "inaugural" poem and his various claims to greatness ...

Trump inaugural poet Joseph Charles MacKenzie brags a former prof claimed his sonnets surpassed Shakespeare's. I'm at the threshold of hell. Brock @bdgwrn

They [the SCP] do seem to be legends in their own minds. I still find M the M [MacKenzie the Magnificent] the funniest of the lot. His grandiosity is of rather spectacular proportions. A more self-important-sounding person would be hard to imagine. It's good that he sounds so ridiculously haughty. It makes it hard not to notice how superior he sees himself as being. Many are bound to be rubbed the wrong way by that. — SCP Lurker

One poet suggested that the SCP might not seem as bad when Muck isn't posting: "His absence lately disappoints. His pompous pseudo-erudition can only make [the SCP] look even worse. I miss his inevitable grandiosity."

The same poet noted that Muck is not a model of consistency in his prose: "His abnormal psychology produces radically opposed effects reminiscent of multiple personality disorder. He is alternately possessed by devils and saints. He is always coming across as different people. His mind is radically unbalanced."

Roses are red,
Violets are blue—
Mac pushed his big head
Right up his wazoo
And each night in bed
Sniffed his rich Irish stew.
  SCP Lurker

The claim of an "inaugural" poem was dismissed by Snopes, which noted: "This poem was not commissioned by Donald Trump nor intended to be the official poem of his 2017 inauguration." The "instructions" that accompanied the poem were bogus, because there was no chance that it would be read at the inauguration. For instance, the instruction: "The refrains at the end of each stanza are to be recited by the Inaugural crowd" makes no sense when the crowd never heard the poem or even knew it existed. (As they still don't.)

When I read the poem, I was aghast, along with many other writers. The content itself was shocking if unsurprising: the reference to President Barack Obama as a "tyrant," the glowing description of "Melania the fair," the strained comparison of "Domhnall" (a Scottish form of Donald) to the Highland warriors of old. But it was the poetry itself—rigid, overwrought, and over a century out of date—that sent writers and poets into a tizzy. The poem read like a ninth grader's understanding of poetry. Morbid curiosity led me to MacKenzie's website. His bio is one of the most inflated and grandiose things I've ever read. Claiming to be "New Mexico's first traditional lyric poet" (an unprovable claim at best), Mackenzie states that his professor at St. John's College, Charles Bell, noted that his sonnets "surpassed many of Shakespeare's," a laughable claim even if the doggerel that is "Pibroch of the Domhnall" were any good. Among his listed accomplishments is "[rejecting] the crippling dogmas of modernism and [remaining] faithful to traditional principles of lyric verse." And what is so wrong with the early 20th-century literary movement called modernism? According to Mackenzie, "Backward old elites have censored traditional lyric poetry because it clashes with their Marxist-totalitarian world view. The result has been complete censorship of traditional lyric verse and the loss of the ability to produce it." This claim, at minimum, is blusterous and overblown. MacKenzie's entire bio reads like parody. Whittier Strong

Awesomely bad poem by Joseph Charles MacKenzie for Trump inauguration. Try not to sgeith! — David Meyer @dajmeyer

(sgeith: vomit, Irish sceithim, Early Irish scéimsceithim; also thin excrement as in diarrhea)

Sweet Jesus, read this poem and weep! — @fcummins

Elmer Fudd declined the invite. So there's that. — coachseinberg

Someone has raised William McGonagall from the grave, given him a lobotomy, & renamed him Joseph Charles MacKenzie. — @PaulVermeersch

William McGonagall would be embarrassed by this doggerel. — Peter Curran @moridura

The Trump [inaugural] poem is so bad that the part where he insults Trump's 'tyrant' predecessor is the least offensive part of it. — 

Donald Trump is having a tough time securing performers for his inauguration. Earlier this week, the Bruce Springsteen cover band slated to play an inauguration gala nixed its plans; before that, Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday withdrew her initial commitment to perform the night before, issuing an apology to frustrated fans. If celebrities are boycotting the event, will the president-elect risk the same rejection by trying to secure an inaugural poet? Professional authors have been among the most vocal decriers of Trump, beginning with a strongly worded open letter to voters last spring. But today, The Independent reported ― in a post initially headlined, "Donald Trump inauguration poem calls Barack Obama a ‘tyrant'" ― that a poem has been decided on, written specifically for the event by Joseph Charles MacKenzie, an American poet whose website looks confusingly like a fundraising page, requesting donations on several separate tabs. "Like receiving discounts on MacKenziePoet products?," the site's contact page reads. "Enjoy seeing how your support helps grow my lyric verses? Maybe you just want to stay in touch with a fellow traveler in the kingdom of truth and beauty." Twitter caught on, percolating the news, which, it turns out, was untrue. MacKenzie's poem — written to celebrate Trump's Scottish roots, and including the line, "With purpose and strength he came down from his tower/ To snatch from a tyrant his ill-gotten power" ― is not a confirmed inaugural reading. — Huffington Post

independent article calls him a 'celebrated american poet' but a google search of his name leads to 5 articles of 'fuck this guy' & thats it — @sashageffen

And who is this Joseph Charles MacKenzie? If he is real (and I suspect that name is an alias), he comes off as quite the troll and résumé padder. — teoppoet (Andres Rojas) 

Untalented and overrated Joseph Charles MacKenzie should stick to "delivering products." Is not a poet. Very sad. — @shannonbgoode

dt's inauguration poem was written by a rando who is apparently most famous for trolling fellow catholics online — @sashageffen

I'm going to pull an Anne Sexton if I ever have to read another word this man conjured. — thereisalightontheedgeoftown

"Whilst hapless old harridans flapping their traps / Teach women to look and behave like us chaps." — crtrystate

I was reaching for my smelling salts, but I think this is a fake. — crtrystate (apparently not believing poetry so terrible can be real)

New Mexico's first lyric poet! That's rich! — fannullona

On his website it says "In civilized times, aristocratic patrons showered poets with support." Now that's a golden shower for ya. — amyandomar

Congratulations to Joseph Charles MacKenzie for being the least talented person in the entire world. It's no small accomplishment. — Josh Epstein @drjosh81

One thing is clearer than the bonnie young lassies that fly to the crowd: this poem is terrible. — Ben Yakas

I just read The Poem™ and it sounds like a toast someone wrote about 3 hours into an Irish wedding reception — Pixie Casey @pixie_casey

The evidence doesn't stack up in the poet's favor...whatever his name is... —

Just a reminder that Obama had Maya Angelou writing poems for his inaugural. Trump gets...Joseph Charles MacKenzie, whoever TF that is. — Casey Lewis @cynical_tutu

Joseph Charles MacKenzie writes poems out of pee. — witchweasel @alendrel

I don't read much poetry, but I know this is bad. Ugh. — maryjve

Ugh gawd! — mx_fizzgold

Wtf — the_kids

That poem ["The Swallows of La Cienega"] and recitation truly are an abomination. When I heard that recitation, it sounded exactly how I imagined somebody so deluded and obsessed with himself would sound. It exposes what he thinks about himself and his poetry. — an anonymous poet familiar with the Society of Classical Poets who says he will no longer publish there

In MacKenzie's "unjustified attacks" on other poets "he behaves like a ventriloquist's puppet with Salemi providing all the words and sentiments." — SCP Lurker

His website is very comprehensive and includes this humble mission statement: "My mission is simple: to comfort human souls through the finest, most beautiful lyric verse the world has not seen in over 100 years." No wonder he loves Trump, this is truly the biglyest poetry in history! — Ben Yakas

Related Pages: A Review of the Society's Literary Journal, Laureates 'R' US, Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?, Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic, James Sale's Blue Light Special, Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?, "How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Salemi's Dilemma, Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets

The HyperTexts