What You Need to Know About the Trump Inaugural Poem

First off, it’s not. No poetry will be read at the Trump inauguration, per the program.

The poem was written by a certain Joseph Charles MacKenzie (more on him later) and posted to a site he, whatever his real name is, obviosly runs (see the comments): Classical Poets, on January 15, 2017.

Somehow The Scotsman got word and reprinted it the following day: “Scotland-inspired poem created for Donald Trump inauguration.”

The day after that, The Independent covered it as “Poem celebrating Donald Trump inauguration describes Barack Obama as a ‘tyrant.’” Then the interwebs went nuts.

So far there’s no indication the Trump camp had anything to do with the writing, initial posting, and subsequent dissemination of the poem.

And who is this Joseph Charles MacKenzie? If he is real (and I suspect that name is an alias), he comes off as quite the troll and résumé padder. He writes in his site, Mackenziepoet, among other things:

For my translations of some important sonnets of the French Renaissance (into Middle English), I earned the Henry M. Austin Poetry Prize then sponsored by the Witter Bynner Foundation.

French into Middle English. Of course. Also, that prize does not seem to exist, though the Witter Bynner Foundation does. Also:

One of my professors, an Oxonian named Charles Bell, indicated that some of my sonnets surpassed many of Shakespeare’s. Indeed, a sequence of 154 sonnets I had then completed later received First Place in the Long Poem Section of the Scottish International Poetry Competition.

154 sonnets! Some surpassing many of Shakespeare’s! One can only gasp. Also, the referenced prize does not seem to exist. Also, Charles Bell was a prominent Scottish surgeon (nice touch), though he was not associated with Oxford.

However, I suspect Joseph Charles MacKenzie is not real — he’s an alias, a cover for a troll.

Here the man (he is a man) behind the screen gives his name as Joseph McKenzie (the name of a Scottish photography piooneer) and claims he “received his M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Studies. He is a humble librarian.” This picture is used:


                        Mr McKenzie, I presume?

Whereas here, the man in the shadows gives his name as Joseph Charles MacKenzie, and states “At St. John’s College, where I obtained my B.A. in Literae Humaniores, I read the Nine Lyric Poets of Greece in their original dialects.” Of course. 

He also claims he has an M.A. in French Studies with a minor in Italian from the University of New Mexico, and uses the same photograph as above (towards the bottom of the page), and this one at the top:


Well, it’s hard to say if they are the same person, but there is a tempting similarity, no? But I suspect the photos aren’t of the person behind the mask.

Fun and games.

I suspect the “real” McKenzie or MacKenzie (I think the former) has been having fun via his various aliases. A day’s search led me to a likely candidate, neither librarian nor linguist/poet, and perhaps belonging to a so-called higher calling. However, any further speculation on my part would be just that. 

I’ll close with the mission statement (scroll to the bottom) “Joseph Charles MacKenzie” (the linguist/poet, not the librarian incarnation) put forth, who first posted the Trump  poem:

THE TRIUMPH OF TRADITION OVER MODERNISM

You have boycotted modernist so-called “poetry” for over half a century, but arrogant publishers have ignored your rejection of pseudo-intellectual nonsense in chopped-up prose.

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.

The only solution to the crisis is the triumphant appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie’s Sonnets for Christ the King, the first significant body of traditional lyric verse produced since the poems of W.B. Yeats and Charles Péguy.

“MacKenzie” is nothing if not modest. Oh, and he claims to be “New Mexico’s first traditional lyric poet.” Of course.

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