Donald Rumsfeld: Poet

13 August 2003

In what must surely rank as the most amazing poetry news story of the year, U.S. writer and humorist Hart Seely has put together a new book entitled 'Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld' (Free Press).

Rumsfeld is no doubt known to Cordite readers as the U.S. Secretary of Defence but he has also developed a reputation (especially during press briefings) for his poetic pronouncements. Now Seely has done all the hard work for us, presenting what is described by New York Newsday as a 'slim collection' of Rumsfeld's lyrical chestnuts. Take this:

'If you're walking towards a wall

And you decide you want to go to the opposite wall,

The sooner you make the correction,

The easier it is.

If you wait until you're right face up against the wall,

Then you've got to make a sharp turn.'

Or this:

'As we know,

There are known knowns.

But there are also unknown unknowns,

The ones we don't know we don't know.'

With its obvious antecedents (such as Paul Bagala's Is Our Children Learning: the Case Against George W. Bush), Seely's 'anthology' is sure to cause ripples amongst even the hardened American poetry intelligentsia. And if it's a reading by the author you're after, don't panic – simply wait for the next war briefing!

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