Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library Hosts a "Prisoner" in Honor of Banned Books Week

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:39 -- Maggie Jacoby

This post was written by the Kurt Vonnegut Museuem and Library.

Greetings from the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis.  This is our 7th year celebrating the Freedom to Read along with the American Library Association. We originally got involved because the very first year that our doors were open to the public, Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse Five was banned in a rural Missouri high school along with another book, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.  We jumped into action and sent 75 copies of Vonnegut’s book to students and parents from the school.  People all over the world reached out to us in solidarity.  Two months later, we brought Sarah Ockler out to Indy to speak at our first Banned Books Week celebration. 

In that first year, we started an annual tradition. We host a “prisoner” that week. . .  someone who lives in the front window of the Vonnegut Library surrounded by a wall of banned books.  That individual creates something… something literary. . .  while serving their time.  Each person has come at this task with a unique talent. This year, we have someone altogether different from the others.  This year, we have “Greg Bravehorse,” who is visiting us from #Tralfamadore, a moon of Tralfamadore.  (If you’ve read Vonnegut, you get the reference.) Greg’s spokesperson is Craig Brandhorst, who works in the communications department at the University of South Carolina. 

Visitors from all over the country come to the Vonnegut Library during this week to talk to our prisoner, attend our noontime speaking events and our exciting evening programming. One highlight of this year is the national book release of the new collection of Vonnegut’s work, Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories. This book contains five previously unpublished short stories in addition to the complete collection of his published stories.  The book was compiled and edited by Dan Wakefield and Jerome Klinkowitz, and Wakefield will be featured on Thursday, September 28th as part of an interview with the book’s publisher, Dan Simon, of Seven Stories Press, at our book release event and reception in Indianapolis, Vonnegut’s hometown. 

With President Trump in Indianapolis for a visit this week, we invited him to join us by sending him the following tweet:@realdonaldtrump An illegal alien from #tralfamadore is living in our museum for #bannedbooksweek. Would love to talk about #freedomtoread

We thought he should see that we went ahead and built our very own wall. In fact, it was just a few years ago when Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen stopped by the Vonnegut Library during Banned Books Week, the year that Mike Pence signed legislation declaring this an officially recognized week by the State of Indiana. 

We encourage you to go to http://www.Vonnegutlibrary.org to learn more about and sign up for our remaining events this week and order your copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories.

And remember the words of the great Kurt Vonnegut: “And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”