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American journalist Trillin to discuss ‘The Writing Game’

September 02, 2008

Readers of the political journal The Nation know Calvin Trillin for his clever and often biting “Deadline Poet” features – satirical comic verses that lampoon politics and, of late, the presidential race.

Yet others know Trillin as an author of humorous books that chronicle his escapades as a “happy eater” or for his memoirs, including a tribute to his late wife. Still others know the Kansas City, Mo., native as a staff writer for “The New Yorker,” where he produced a highly praised series of articles called “U.S. Journal.”

This versatile and best-selling author, journalist and humorist will deliver the Jonathan and Maxine Marshall Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium on the Tempe campus. The title of the lecture is “The Writing Game.” Sponsored by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the lecture is free and open to the public, though tickets are required. Tickets may be reserved online at: They also will be available at the ASU Bookstore. More information at 480-965-1441.

Trillin, who earlier this year was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, graduated from Yale in 1957. After serving in the military, he joined Time magazine where he covered the South from the Atlanta bureau, and then became a writer for Time in New York.

Throughout his career, Trillin has produced columns for Time and The Nation, some of which have been collected in five books.

Trillin is the author of several New York Times best-sellers, including his collection of comic verse about the current Bush Administration, “Obliviously on He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme,” and the sequel “Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme.” Trillin also has written extensively about regional American cuisine, including “The Tummy Trilogy,” which details his travels and experiences eating across America.

Trillin’s more personal works include the tribute to his late wife, “About Alice,” described by many reviewers as a love story, and the acclaimed “Remembering Denny,” about a classmate and friend from Yale University who committed suicide. Trillin also wrote “Messages from my Father” about his relationship with his father.

The Jonathan and Maxine Marshall Distinguished Lecture Series brings to ASU nationally known scholars concerned with promoting culture through the humanities and a better understanding of the problems of democracy. The annual lecture series has been supported since 1993 by the Marshalls, retired publishers of The Scottsdale Daily Progress, and The Marshall Fund of Arizona.

“My wife and I spent most of our lives interested in what was going on in the world politically,” says Jonathan Marshall. “We’ve endowed this lecture because we felt it was important to bring really great minds to Arizona and Arizona State University who would stimulate thinking.”

The lecture series has featured notable journalists, including Newsweek’s Jon Meacham, Robin Wright, Seymour Hersh, Paul Krugman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Daniel Goldhagen, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“Journalism is one of the highest callings there is,” Marshall notes. “Good journalism is essential to democracy. With good journalism, you have good government.”

Ashley Lange,
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Carol Hughes,
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences