Monday, September 5, 2011

IIyse Kusnetz Poetry Reading

I stopped by Urban ReThink for an evening of poetry. I was greeted by friendly handshakes and hugs from many people who I had met thanks to the Kerouac House project. I had seen author Karen Price just the night before also at Urban ReThink. This place truly is becoming a lightning rod to the cultural pulse of this city. I picked up a "Pumpkin Head" beer from the freezer. What a delicious beer! I may just keep sketching events at Urban ReThink until their supply runs out. I'm thinking Pumpkin beer is seasonal but I just realized Halloween is only two months away! The supply is limitless for the next few months.

John Hughes was the first poet to get behind the microphone. I enjoyed the way he spoke about his brother. He claimed his brother is butt ugly yet girls always flocked to him. He couldn't understand the phenomenon since he considered himself reasonably handsome. Lucky in love, unlucky in life the saying goes. Sure enough his brother had the worst luck growing up. He was glad to be near his brother since he would soak up all the bad luck in any room. When John read one poem which was written about his ex-wife, he mispronounced the first word saying "lick" instead of "lit". A Kerouac House regular shouted, "Freudian slip!" John had to stop as he started laughing himself. He finally read the line of the poem, "lit the wick." Every poet in the room burst into laughter as they re-wrote the line in their minds. It took me several seconds before I started laughing as well.

Ilyse Kusnetz explained that her collection of poems were all about bearing witness. I like the premise since I feel my role in sketching is to bear witness not just to the struggle of everyday life but also to the beauty in the mundane. Many of Ilyse's poems were about WWII. Her uncle served in the war and being Jewish he was often called upon to translate. He witnessed the worst atrocities imaginable. One of her poems spoke of bodies piled high like cord wood and native Germans being directed to move the bodies they so long denied. Her father was to young to serve in the war but he did help on the docks. A huge crate being transferred to a ship slipped and everyone else let go of the guiding ropes except for her dad. She wrote a wonderful analogy about how he held tight just as he later did to keep his family together and secure.

The next day Terry was leaving me for ten days over Labor Day as she visited her sister in Washington State. Rather than mingle with all the writers after the reading, I immediately slipped out like a phantom. It was important to get home to Terry.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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