Calvin Trillin has lived on and off in Greenwich Village since 1969, but refers to himself as a “resident out-of-towner” with deep ties to the Midwest and, in particular, to Kansas City, Missouri where he was born and raised. He attended Yale in the 1950s with Larry Kramer (later a neighbor in Greenwich Village and close family friend), and Trillin reflects on the observations he made traveling East and back during the years he was enrolled, especially regarding race and segregation.
Trillin discussed his time in the 1960s writing about the Freedom Rides, desegregation, and the civil rights movement, including in the South where he traveled extensively, writing for Time and The New Yorker. He became a long-time columnist for The Nation, where he began the “Uncivil Liberties” column, and developed his humorous rhyming verse about political figures and topical issues in the regular “Deadline Poet” column. He has also authored memoirs, books on food and travel, and collections of his columns and political verse.
In this interview, Trillin describes his early days as a writer, his interest in living in the Village, and the various places he lived in the city before moving into his current home on Grove Street, where he and his wife raised two daughters. He offers his thoughts on how political issues of the early 2020s, such as voter suppression and white supremacist movements, tie in with what he witnessed during his reporting throughout the U.S. starting in the 1960s.