Reviewed by Mark Tamsula
The day after the 2016 November
presidential election, Ken Waldman jotted a phrase:
"Before long, Donald Trump would make former president, George W. Bush,
look like a statesman." That insight led to a sonnet, which led
to dozens more. By mid-December, he had enough for Trump
Sonnets, Volume 1, which Ridgeway Press of Roseville, Michigan
immediately published, and which Ken had in his hands by the inauguration.
Volume 1, is a face off on a ball court of truth vs.reality. Each
sonnet fires off 14 lines of astonishment and despair at the country's
highest elected official. Every
volley met and returned by tweets of ludicrous lewdness, read directly
from Donald Trump's mind, and in his voice. 71 sonnets, covering the first
fifty days of this administration.
What soon followed was Trump
Sonnets, Volume 2, which Ken wrote while on tour in spring 2017.
Half of this sequel's 66 poems are incisive commentary (and include poems
for Mitch McConnell, Jeff Sessions, and Sean Spicer/Sarah Huckabee Sanders
in addition to the Trump ones). For the other half Ken intrepidly
submerges into the subconscious realm of Trump's dreams that he imagines
Donald Trump might have. No analysis, therapy or explanation is suggested,
just raw footage from inside the mind of the man who could destroy us all.
In the summer of 2017, Ken wrote an essay, "Donald
Trump is My Muse," to try and explain the deluge of poems. His stage
show also titled "Donald Trump is My Muse" features these poems.
From fall 2017 to spring 2018, he wrote
Sonnets, Volume 3: The International Edition. Volume 3 transcends the view from the mountain top to span
the entire planet, like a cable package connecting directly to the minds
and hearts of people in over 70 countries. Ken Waldman is no longer just
channeling himself and Donald Trump, he is now channeling the conscience
of the whole country, from the perspective of the entire world. For those
of you who have avoided doing, or saying, or thinking anything about this
situation we're in, here is your cathartic. Give these poems a chance to
be the outlet of your frustration, to realize for yourself where you stand, but
arenít comfortable, or up to the task of saying it aloud.
People have asked if there will be a Volume 4. Waldman
says only that he's doing his job as an engaged citizen.
Since 1994, Ken Waldman has made his living as a
freelance writer, musician, performer, and educator, and has appeared at
leading festivals, performing arts centers, concert series, colleges, and clubs throughout North America.
He combines Appalachian-style string-band music, original poetry, and
Alaska-set storytelling for a performance uniquely his.