Red and Blue, Rhymed for You

Author Gives Dr. Seuss Spin To Political Issues

Posted September 12, 2005 at 4:47pm

While the title of Don Davis’ book “One State Two State Red State Blue State” is a play on the Dr. Seuss childhood favorite “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” that’s about where the similarities between the two end.

Yes, both books are written in verse, utilizing the power of rhyme. However, Dr. Seuss’ work gives readers fictional characters (such as Mr. Gump with the seven-hump Wump), whereas Davis’ book offers a smattering of satirical twists on the nonfictional political and social hot-button issues of today.

Part of the reason Davis found the title of the book so fitting is because he said he was “trying to take the edge off — with all the talk of red versus blue states — it’s almost like the country was fighting another civil war.” He added that the “visceral connection between the red state-blue state talk” and Dr. Seuss’ book is what “triggered the initial idea to write it in verse. By accident I discovered that writing in that form adds a comic punch.”

Punch is something the book definitely has, as it touches on issues including gay marriage, the war in Iraq, religion, stem-cell research, abortion and the teaching of evolution. “What I attempted to do was make it a comprehensive encyclopedia” on current issues, Davis said.

The 177-page book, which hit shelves in late June, opens with the chapter titled, “Was Jesus Red or Blue?” The first page reads as follows: “One State / Two State / Red State / Blue State / Red State goes to Church and prays / Blue State welcomes Blacks and Gays / Cast your ballot, Red or Blue / Now tell me, What Would Jesus Do?”

Davis said he wrote the majority of the book in the months following the 2004 election, and as “things became more front and center in the news, I’d keep adding.”

Along the way, Davis said he can’t recall any particular words that he had trouble rhyming, but he said if there were any, “I probably canned the notion. But it’s amazing how flexible the English language is.”

Davis, a commercial litigator in New York, said he considers himself a “political junkie,” and other political junkies — “people who follow the news, watch ‘The Daily Show,’ who both know the news and like a humorous slant on it” — are who he considers as the main audience for the book.

While some might be offended by or not agree with the material used in Davis’ book, he said “very often, people who may have a closed mind or a strong view on an issue would be more willing to consider the other side if you could make them laugh. If they don’t agree with me on a particular issue, [humor is] sometimes a more effective way to open up a dialogue.”

As part of promoting the book, Davis has done about 20 radio interviews, which he said are good because he does them “as kind of a performance. [The book] lends itself to short comedic verse.” Along with the radio interviews, he has book signings and book festivals planned for the next couple months. And even though he’s still caught up in the whirlwind of promoting this book, he said that he’s always writing and that there could be another book in his future.

“What I’m most proud of is when I can make somebody laugh and make a point at the same time. Obviously I want to get a laugh out of people, but I like to deliver a message,” Davis said. “The best way to make a serious point is through humor.”