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.
Earlier today, the Society of Classical Poets, the small literary organization that initially published the poem, posted on Facebook that Trump’s team “should” have it read at the inauguration.
The post points out that Trump would be the first Republican president to have an inaugural poet. Indeed, only John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have featured poetry readings at their respective inaugurations, a tradition that wasn’t established until 1961.
Why the Society of Classical Poets, an organization that’s at least established enough to have a contest advertised on Poets & Writers, would tout a clumsily arranged work by a writer whose chief concern seems to be personal promotion befuddled writers on Twitter. But for now, MacKenzie’s “Pibroch of the Domhnall” remains nothing more than a puzzling ode.
In lieu of reading it, take a look at a list of poems we compiled after the election.