Society of classical poets: arrogance and incompetence
The Society of Classical Poets have begun nominating each other for Poet
Laureate of the United States! How amusing!
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 also posited
the questions: What happens when near-infinite pretension has intercourse with
massive incompetence? Are poets likely to pop out, or pretenders? Emperors with
clothes, or without?
Well, the Keystone Scops quickly answered my questions by claiming members of
their glee club, which generally operates at a junior high level, are
candidates for Poet Laureate! So they have earned a new nickname:
Laureates 'R' US.
NOTE: Updates appear in bold to make them easier to find.
CAVEAT EMPTOR: The Society of Classical Poets has apparently become a vanity
publication. Members must now purchase the SCP's journal and provide proof of
purchase in order to remain members. This appears to be the case even for members who
weren't included in the journal in question, so the SCP has seemingly gone
"beyond vanity." Because previous journals have been
riddled with errors and lackluster poems, this seems like a vastly unfair
policy. First, one must pay to become a member. Then one must buy shoddy
merchandise in order to remain a member. Whatever happened to putting out books
that people want to buy?
by Michael R. Burch
The Society of Classical Poets,
A Review of the Society's Literary Journal,
Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic,
Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or
James Sale's Blue Light Special,
"How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Salemi's Dilemma,
Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets
Laureates 'R' US
The initial cry for the next American Poet Laureate to come from their midst was
made by the Keystone Scops in the form of a poem by the very appropriately named
Dusty Grein. This awkward "Help us elect one of our own" poem was delivered in
very dusty language indeed. It begins ...
Calling for the next U.S. Poet Laureate to be a traditional rhyming poet
A double refrained chant royal in iambic pentameter
O harken to my plea, as I implore,
from need, true classic poetry to save.
Sweet words in rhyming rhythms we adore,
and metered lines, like those the masters gave; ...
Dusty dustily laments the fact (according to him) that traditional poetry is
bleeding and dying while other classical forms of art, such as opera, are still
going strong. If he's correct, he may have given us a YUGE clue as to the real
source of the problem:
In music we still find the softened roar
of classic opera songs still oft are craved;
There is more—a LOT more—but believe me, you don't want to read it. Dusty Grein
is best taken in very small doses, if at all. This excruciatingly terrible
"classical" poem may serve as an advertisement for the advantages of Modernism,
but it is not going to persuade anyone with an ear for good poetry to "choose
wisely." The poem was published on the SCP website with the heading "An Open
Letter to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, by Dusty Grein." Apparently the
SCP will be contacting Carla Hayden with the poem and other similar poems and
letters, in an attempt to address past wrongs. But what about the crime of
publishing this trainwreck? I only wish I could be there to hear Ms. Hayden's
guffaws and chortles when she reads Grein's poem. If she's drinking anything at
the time, I suspect it will be expelled violently through her nostrils.
The first comment posted about Grein's poem mentioned the creation of an SCP
"mission statement." Mission Impossible, perhaps? Will Tom Cruise star
as an aging classical poet who struggles to write decent English but nonetheless
wants to be the Savior of Poetry?
Joseph Charles MacKenzie aka "Muck the Magnificent" immediately dismissed the
Librarian of Congress with the extremely tolerant observation that "Carla Hayden
was appointed by her long-time personal friend Barack Obama, according to
journalist Amanda Prestigiacomo because 'she has a uturus [sic] and is black.'"
Muck then offered his own opinion (no quotation marks) that Tracie [sic] K.
Smith was appointed to a second term as Poet Laureate of the United States
"because she's black and radicalized."
(NOTE: Tracy K. Smith is an accomplished poet who has, in my opinion, written
better poems than anything by MacKenzie that I've read to date. I offer as
evidence her poems "Wade in the Water," "Duende" and "Don't You Wonder,
Sometimes?" I believe it's wrong to say that a poet has been appointed Poet
Laureate "because she's black and radicalized" when in reality she is deserving
of the honor, based on her work.)
Joe Tessitore introduced a note of sanity when he observed: "I did not get past
his fifth line [of Grein's poem]. I wonder if the general public or the
Librarian of Congress will do any better?"
Not unless she really needs to have her nostrils irrigated!
Evan Mantyk then issued a call for more poems on the subject: "You have a good
point. Please do write a shorter poem on the same topic and submit it. We are
looking for many letters on this topic to Ms. Hayden and/or President Trump."
Therefore it seems this upcoming episode of Mission Impossible will
star Cruise trying to get Trump to read a poem! The SCP's theme song should be
"(To Dream) The Impossible Dream" played in an extremely plaintive minor key.
Grein then defended his indefensible poem at great length by blaming modern
attention spans! Readers are to blame: for instance, Joe Tessitore! James
Tweedie quickly "thanked" Grein for throwing Tessitore under the bus, while
calling him "Rusty" in an interesting irony. Did he do it on purpose? Mantyk
then threw classical poetry under the bus by calling it "clothing with a shred
of dignity" compared to the nakedness of free verse. Talk about damning with
Amy Foreman then asked if SCP poets should "flood" Ms. Hayden's desk with
"similar poetic pleas" either in emails or "letters under the banner of the
Grein replied with a smiley face emoticon that he thought such flooding was
Someone named Monty then threw Tessitore under the bus for having the good sense
to stop reading Grein's terrible poem at the fifth line.
On an amusing note, Tessitore later wrote his own poem imploring Carla Hayden to
select a classical poet as the next Poet Laureate: "Ms. Hayden, On Your
Selection of Our Next Poet Laureate." But Tessitore disqualified the scops by
asking Ms. Hayden to find someone who has "applied his pen" to "verse which is
sublime and grand." There is obviously nothing "sublime" or "grand" about the
ungrammatical "poetry" being published by the SCP. Tessitore asked Ms. Hayden to
find someone "who writes for all to read." Since the SCP website crawls with
racist, sexist, homophobic and other intolerant comments, it's obvious that a
large percentage of the American reading public will not want to peruse anything
the scops write. Tessitore asked Ms. Hayden to choose someone "who is from all
pretension freed." But the scops are all about pretension (and inversions).
Tessitore continued his checklist with a poet who can be "subtle." But
there is nothing subtle about the scops. The scops are a subtle as a burning
cross on a synagogue lawn. The next checklist item was a poet "whose message
speaks to young and old." But most young Americas do not approve of racism,
sexism, homophobia or religious intolerance, so once again Tessitore eliminated
his fellow scops from consideration.
The first SCP poet mentioned as a candidate for Poet Laureate was Leo Yankevich,
who calls himself a Polish count and claims to live in a castle in
Poland. Such things apparently mean no more to the Keystone Scops than the
stopping power of real bullets would matter to the Keystone Kops.
Even Tom Cruise couldn't get a Polish count appointed Poet Laureate of the
United States, so let's consider the other nominees ...
Fortunately, Mantyk named his top three picks for the next Poet Laureate:
Joseph Charles MacKenzie
Joseph S. Salemi
C. B. Anderson
SCP Lurker, a poet who "listens in" on the SCP website but no longer posts there
due to the Inquisition-like censorship, observed: "Well, we know that M the M,
should he be selected for the honor, will be campaigning to bring back
hanging. Salemi will probably campaign for making sodomy illegal again (and
possibly a capital crime), keeping women in aprons and the nursery, and of
course for Frank's [Pope Francis's] impeachment or excommunication. CB will call
for the capture and burning alive of the 'foul beast.'"
Lurker suggested that the new movement needed a catchy name: "It would be less
misleading if they called their New Millennial Movement the 17th Century
Revivalist Movement. But something simpler, like The Bowel Movement, would also
Lurker concluded: "Their delusions of grandeur are something to behold. Not to
mention their delusions in general."
Now, since Evan Mantyk is the SCP's top dog (although perhaps not the height of
coherence), let's take a closer look at his nominations ...
I will begin with the least likely of the three, C. B. Anderson. Unlike most of
the SCP's motley crew, Anderson is not a terrible poet. He can and does write
grammatically correct sentences for the most part, and that immediately raises
him to an exalted level among the generally semiliterate Scops. But in order to
be considered for Poet Laureate, a poet would have to have written some
exceptional poems, or at least a few that were very good. I have read a number
of Anderson's poems over the years, and I can honestly say that none of them
ever struck me as very good, much less exceptional. Anderson seems like a
journeyman to me; thus I cannot take his nomination seriously.
The second Scop nominated, Dr. Joseph S. Salemi, is a better poet than Anderson,
although in my opinion he is not Poet Laureate material either. Even if the
field were narrowed down strictly to formalists, there are several contemporary
formalists living in the United States whose best poems eclipse Salemi's, in my
opinion, including Jack Butler, Jared Carter, Rhina P. Espaillat, X. J. Kennedy
and Robert Mezey. And that's just five names off the top of my head. If we
include poets of other genres, as we should, there are others more deserving,
again in my opinion. But in any case Salemi rejected Mantyk's nomination,
observing: "I'm not the gregarious type." That is radical understatement, since
Salemi is well known for ranting about "faggots," "feminist bitches," "liberal
scum," etc. If Salemi were appointed Poet Laureate, I would expect his
occasional poems to have titles like "Ode to Homophobia" and "Feminist, Desist!"
So let's cross Salemi off the list.
That leaves us with Joseph Charles MacKenzie, or Muck the Magnificent.
Here 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
Muck is northern New Mexico's third traditional
lyric poet, after two poets unknown to 99.9% of the reading public. (Thus he
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 ...
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 we must conclude 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, as you have probably guessed by now. Here are a few reasons
Evidence That Muck May, Possibly, Not Be Greater Than Shakespeare
Muck has certainly made magnificent claims for himself, but can he live
up to them? Would the greatest lyric poet of all time, or even of the last
hundred years, produce clunkers like the following
lines, which I combed directly from poems published by The Keystone Scops?
Edward, the Cross no more on England’s shores
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 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.
Thy people blesses ...
Alas, my song cannot unburthen care ...
And just as wax doth melt before the flame ...
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 ...
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 like Shakespeare!) 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
"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
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:
And things go rapidly downhill after that very rocky start. Wordsworth may be rolling over in his grave,
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
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, ...
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
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 ...
The bells of change are clanging.
My lines for Trump came out today,
now bring back death by hanging.
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."
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
"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
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
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.
Reader Observations about Joseph Charles MacKenzie aka Muck the
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
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
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 scéim, sceithim;
also thin excrement as in diarrhea)
Sweet Jesus, read this poem and weep! — @fcummins
Elmer Fudd declined the invite. So there's that. —
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
The Trump [inaugural] poem is so bad that the part where he insults Trump's
'tyrant' predecessor is the least offensive part of it. — wonkette.com
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
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
"Whilst hapless old harridans flapping their traps / Teach women to look and
behave like us chaps." —
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! —
On his website it says "In civilized times, aristocratic patrons showered poets
with support." Now that's a golden shower for ya. —
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
Joseph Charles MacKenzie writes poems out of pee. — witchweasel @alendrel
I don't read much poetry, but I know this is bad. Ugh. —
Ugh gawd! —
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." —
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