REVIEWS: Trump Sonnets or: How I’ve Taken on Donald Trump (and Won)

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Ken reminds us of the subtle capacity of the folk sensibility to embody righteous rage. Trump is both target and muse. The show excels when the sonnets speak for themselves.

— ASHLEY KOTZUR, PortFringe 2019 Review Team

In order to deal with the result of the 2016 presidential election, poet Ken Waldman began writing short sonnets that projected his feelings about Donald Trump (just to be clear, he’s not a fan). Some were angry, some funny and some broadly satirical. He kept writing until he had created over 200 sonnets which were published in numerous volumes. Waldman’s show plays like an unstructured book signing event with the author randomly reading selections from his books. The sonnets are enjoyable and well written but I would to have loved to hear more about their creation and how his art has helped him cope with a difficult situation. Waldman is also a talented fiddler and sprinkles some entertaining fiddle playing throughout the show although, curiously, it doesn’t really seem to fit the overall subject matter.

— MARK MAGEE, PortFringe 2019 Review Team

It’s a Fringe mainstay, the unlikely confluence of disparate things finding logical (or at least intuitive) common ground. For example: on the surface, there seems very little to suggest that traditional Appalachian fiddle music would lend itself to left-leaning, spoken-word, Beat-inflected poetry (think less Gary Snyder and more Jack Kerouac). Yet reduced to their abstractions, what we’re dealing with are two mythologizing genres, one recalling fondly an idealized American past and the other a stylized American present. Combine that with an unselfconscious meander of improvised storytelling, and how is this not the perfect vehicle for discussing the human experience of our 45th president?

— DOUGLAS W. MILLIKEN, PortFringe 2019 Review Team