A Vonnegut Graduation Like No Other: Take Three!

By Gracie Phillips, KVML 2020 Summer Intern

The third installment of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) virtual graduation parties opened with a welcome and introduction from co-sponsors CEO and Founder Julia Whitehead and Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press.

Julia Whitehead of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library

“Kurt would’ve loved . . . the Kurt Vonnegut Museum. It’s a quirky place,” Simon said of KVML. “And it’s also just full of life and keeping his legacy alive.”

Tuesday’s graduation ceremony featured Paul Auster, Lewis Black, A’lelia Bundles, Suzanne McConnell, Ryan North, and Mark Vonnegut reading Vonnegut’s 1999 speech “How Music Cures Our Ills (and there are a lot of them)” to graduates of Agnes Scott College, a private women’s school in Decatur, Georgia. Special guest Dan Wakefield, editor of the book of Vonnegut speeches If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, said a few words to celebrate the graduates, as well. The book is available at the KVML gift shop and makes a great present for this year’s graduating class.

After the reading, musician Ethan Hodes played “Back Home Again in Indiana” on the trumpet, followed by “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” a piece Hodes mentioned he’s “sure Kurt would’ve heard back in the day.” Mariah Murray, a 2020 graduate from Anderson University read the poem “Aspiration” by Henrietta Cordelia Ray.

Mariah Murray, an Anderson University 2020 grad, read a poem at the graduation ceremony.

After the interlude, twenty names of graduating seniors as near as Indiana University and as far as Glasgow, Scotland, were read by comedian Lewis Black.

Lewis Black

Simon also wished the graduates well and concluded, “Kurt Vonnegut is here with you, with us, and thank you everyone for being here tonight. Best wishes to the graduates and to the path ahead.”

This is Black’s third time participating in the graduation parties. He returns Tuesday, May 26, for the fourth and final installment of the KVML virtual graduations. Special guests will include actor Matt Dillon, musical duo Kat Wallace and David Sasso, writer Lee Stringer (who collaborated with Vonnegut on the book, Like Shaking Hands with God),  influencer and KVML board member Terrian Barnes, Steve Campbell with the Indianapolis Colts, journalist David Brancaccio, singer Judy Pancoast, and comedian Scott Long. Tickets can be purchased here on Eventbrite. Join us!


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