A Crusade of Children: Art and a Poem Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaugherhouse-Five

Ink on paper

Day 307 and Kurt Vonnegut’s Self Portrait

Submitting to The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library’s (KVML) literary journal “So It Goes” has become a tradition: when I was sixteen, I received my first writing rejection from them and it inspired me to keep writing and submitting. 

When I was fifteen, I came across one of KVML’s Kickstarters, I was so enthused and excited I donated to my first Kickstarter with my very own money. A year later I came across the “So It Goes” journal and contest, and I submitted. Later that year, still inspired, I interviewed KVML’s Library Curator Chris Lafave and we dove into a whirlwind of Vonnegut and library admiration. 

My admiration began at an early age, while I didn’t know much about who he was or about his stories, I adored a quote on our wall, 

“The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.” 

Kurt Vonnegut was a formative part of my early teenage years. While he was a household name throughout my life, I must confess that I was only introduced to his writing when someone I was attracted to said Slaughterhouse-Five was their favorite book. But once I climbed into the book, my fourteen-year-old view on the world changed. Vonnegut’s ability to express life’s brutality through a good dose of irony and wit captured my heart and my head. 

But only when I grew up a little, did I understand just how much Vonnegut’s writing had an impact on me. In chapter one of  Slaughterhouse-Five, when Kurt and Bernard O’Hare are reminiscing about the war, O’Hare’s wife Mary chastises them, “You were just babies then.” I realized that being a young adult, was being a baby, but a baby that could remember, and perhaps long for, childhood.

This year is Slaughterhouse-Five’s 50th anniversary. While reminiscing, I thought of the moments when life seems too heavy, when the world and safety seem out of reach. In these moments, despite everything, life still finds a way and continues and continues. Perhaps life is one great big children’s crusade, Vonnegut just happened to point it out to us. 

Without further ado, here is my 3rd submission to “So It Goes”, its fate is undecided, but, then again, so is ours.

307 days done, 58 to go.