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  • NYS Writers Institute

Telling the Truth 2020: Actor and author John Lithgow

"Donald Trump has dragged me into the public arena. He's the first politician who has truly enraged me, and appalled me, and scared me...

I'm amazed there aren't more books of doggerel verse about Trump. Lucky for me."

John Lithgow

Welcome to Day 6 of Telling the Truth 2020, the New York State Writers Institute's virtual symposium on politics, tribalism, polarization, and the future of democracy.

John Lithgow

On his satirical poetry book, Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown

John Lithgow renowned American actor, has received two Tony Awards, six Emmys, two Golden Globes, and two Oscar nominations. He has starred in the hit TV series "3rd Rock from the Sun," "Dexter," "The Crown," and "Perry Mason," and in critically acclaimed films such as "The World According to Garp" and "Terms of Endearment." In the 2019 film "Bombshell," he portrayed the late Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News who resigned after 23 women accused him of sexual harassment. Lithgow has performed on Broadway 25 times and in England with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

The author of nine children's picture books, Lithgow has published two bestselling collections of satirical poetry, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse (2019), and Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age (Sept. 2020). The reviewer for Kirkus said of the sequel, "As with the first volume, this one is a short, succinct, laugh-out-loud affair, and no one in the Trump administration is above Lithgow's eagle-eyed scrutiny.... A hilarious and pertinent parody to help pass the time until the November election decides the nation's fate." Both collections are illustrated with Lithgow's own line drawings. We're proud to support local independent booksellers. To order Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age from The Book House, visit To order Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, visit: For more information on these books and to watch the 21-episode video series based on Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown —starring 19 luminaries from the acting, literary, and political spheres, visit: For more information on John Lithgow, visit:


“It’s our hope that Telling the Truth 2020 will be a force for good and will provide a public service by bringing together experts with a wide range of perspective. We want these events to be conversations of healing, of finding common ground, and of listening respectfully to viewpoints different than our own. We hope this weeklong symposium will build bridges of empathy rather than erecting more walls of fear and hatred.”

-- Paul Grondahl, Director of the NYS Writers Institute.

All events are free and open to the public. No registration required.

Events will be available at ​Videos will premiere at 11 a.m. and can be viewed at your convenience at any time following their launch. Many of the conversations were recorded before Election Day. More at at

Telling the Truth 2020 is the Writers Institute’s third major event of the fall season, following the Albany Book Festival in September and the Time for Reckoning Symposium in October. It is also the third time the Institute has turned its attention to issues of truth-telling, journalism, and ethics. A three-day Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World event was held in 2017 and Telling the Truth: A Symposium on the Craft of Nonfiction took place in 1991.

Telling the Truth 2020 is presented by the New York State Writers Institute with special thanks to The Maguire Family Endowment at the NYSWI, The Opalka Family Endowment, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, The University at Albany Foundation, and WAMC Northeast Public Radio.


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