Nebraska Stories | The Point is Poetry & More…


(theme music) NARRATOR: Coming up
on Nebraska Stories, wicked rhymes at the largest
poetry slam in the Midwest, insights from a 2nd
generation saddle maker, a visit to the only Frank
Lloyd Wright house in Nebraska, and art with a powerful message. (rock music) (upbeat music) (laughs) (upbeat music) (crowd chants) GROUP: Sometimes we feel like we are sleepwalking through
18 years of this town. LADY 8: Rumors
telling us who we are. LADY 1: Waiting to leave. MALE: Waiting to go home. LADY 3: Waiting to come back. TEACHER: I just want you guys
to really think about, as you go up on stage,
I want you to remember, why did you write this poem? What is your favorite line? What are you hoping
people get from this poem? (upbeat music) INSTRUCTOR: Tonight, it’s
just your poetry. You’re in an empty auditorium, and nobody else matters
but you and your words. MATT MASON: Omaha Northwest,
let’s have a poem! Louder Than a Bomb is
a youth poetry festival with students from different
schools and organizations competing against each other
with performance poetry. It’s called slam poetry. LADY 1: Ogallala is not
a place for poetry. LADIES 2 & 3: We have
one coffee shop that doubles as a
Christian book store. MATT:] You read a poem, and then people in the
audience hold up scorecards. EMCEE: We’ve got a 9.3. A 9.2. We got a nine. MATT: It’s
basically a gimmick that makes the poet work
harder to reach the audience. Makes the audience work
harder to appreciate the poet. So you end up with
a poetry reading that’s got the atmosphere
of a basketball game. (crowd cheering) MATT: It’s a school year-round
program that works with kids on creative writing
and self-expression. YOUNG LADY: You hear the news, North Carolina high school
teacher fired for being gay, except for at first,
there are no headlines. MATT: We encourage people
to write poems about anything. YOUNG WOMAN (emotionally): My
baby crying will be the proof that I need to know he’s here. He’s alive. And he needs me. It’s difficult giving it every
time and not trying to cry. You relive it every time,
but it’s a beautiful piece. It’s a beautiful, it’s not a beautiful
experience, but it’s it’s an experience. Not everyone has to go through
it, but some can share it. (crowd snapping) MATT: We get stories
about home life. WOMAN RECITING POEM:
Sadly, for you, my father, my genetic generator,
my absent role model, you have lost your trophy. MATT: We get stories
about racial problems. LADY 1: Our heritage
is what we see when
we look into that mirror. LADY 2: I’m so proud of
who I’ve grown to be. LADY 1: Beautiful. LADY 2: Dark. LADY 3: Black. LADY 4: And lovely. GROUP: Mama says no
one can take that from me. MATT: Acceptance problems
due to GLBTQ issues. We get these real
stories from these kids that are kind of amazing. YOUNG LADY:
We are cosmic phenomena encased in heaps
of flesh and bone. The sunshine that is
in every living person is our proof that humanity is
divine, that it is celestial. Feel the incandescence that
dances from your fingertips. Love intertwined with
the blaze of others. MATT: We get the funny poems, the bizarre poems
that these kids who are just showing
off their creativity and really making
something beautiful. YOUNG WOMAN: Give me the plains where the warm breeze
and the summer rains with the sun of dead
leaves feels like home. (audience applause) MATT: It’s about writing
something meaningful, throwing it out there and
basking in the reaction. And the best part of something
like Louder Than a Bomb is that the kids,
they wanna win, but when a good poem goes
up, it’s every team cheering. POET: Justice. Three, two, one. EMCEE: Y’all
give it up for Skutt! MATT: Skutt Catholic was in
the finals last year. This year, it looked like
they weren’t gonna make it, but they pulled it together. LADY 3: And this poem is titled GROUP: Choke. MATT: They are a group of
really strong writers. LADY 3: In the sixth grade, it should’ve been easy to
counteract a bully’s quips with my own
bombardment of words, but instead, GROUP: I sat there
as she called me fat. Any possible comebacks
tangling themselves in a knot in my throat
like loose kite strings, they didn’t come undone until
I had found somewhere to cry. LADY 3: It was the first
time I learned what my own words tasted
like when I forced them down. MATT: The way they weave their
words together is just gorgeous. LADY 3: Can you hear all
of our being move? MATT: Ogallala
is a first year team, and so for them to
have made it this far is kind of remarkable. They’ve been hard to coach. We’ve had some coaches helping
them through Skype mainly, and now here they are in finals. LADIES 2 & 3: Whatever we
are, whatever we will be, LADIES 1, 2, & 3: Ogallala is
now, Ogallala has a voice. GROUP: Ogallala is here. LADIES 2 & 3: We are
here, ready to be heard. MALE: Ready for poetry. (crowd roars) MATT: Waverly’s been in the
finals the last few years. They are always a strong team, and always a little bit goofy. LADY 3: My first kiss was
comparably anti-climactic. He came at me… GROUP: Open-mouthed. LADY 3: I got scared
and turned my head. MATT: This year, they got a
little bit more of really serious poems, but
with these undercurrents of humor that they
just surprise you with. GROUP: We’re
writing to inform you what you’re writing isn’t real. It’s fairy-tale idealism, and
we’re tired of reading it. Let us give you an
idea for a character. LADY 1: Make her
a hockey player. LADY 2: Photographer. GROUP: Make her
trans, vulnerable. Make her suffer
from mental illness, beautiful and radiant,
and not defined by a boy. LADY 1: Make her real. (crowd roars) MATT: Duchesne
is an amazing team. They won the first year, but this year, they
were struggling to
get a team together. Here they are in finals. GROUP: She liked verbs. LADY 4: She oozed them. LADY 2: An orchestra
of action words. LADY 3: I remember hearing. MATT: The teacher who
sponsored us at Duchesne for the first four
years of the program is a woman named Kate Summer, and she passed away
this past year. LADY 3: She was the first one GROUP: who taught
me how to write. LADY 1: I was raw, GROUP: inky, a mess. LADY 4: And she made me legible. LADY 2: She made all of us
realize that writing GROUP: is the only remedy. LADY 1: Remedy for
sleepless eyelids. LADY 2: And stress. LADY 3: And futures too far
ahead to be found. (audience applause) MATT: I think a lot of
times, we discount, especially hear, oh, it’s
teenagers writing poetry. No, these folks are gonna
be published some day. The level of the
writing is so good. (slow piano music) MATT:
The points are not the point. The point is the poetry, because so many teams
could’ve been here on finals. MALE 1: Visions of bringing
change when I get older. Saving this place
before it’s over. Anger replace tears
when I’m alone. Forget the world for a moment. Allow my thoughts
to take me home. MALE 2: That’s why I’m
taking notes, ’cause we stand on
a white canvass. Though light skin is my color, BOTH: black is my heart from
the actions of others. EMCEE: There was one school that
really stood out for us, that really showed the
spirit of Louder Than a Bomb. GROUP: Omaha Northwest! JHEVAUN GRANT:
We not only fight ourselves
in the way we express our art, but also, we like to
listen to others’ arts, and also congratulate
them on being brave, and getting up there and
expressing theirself. EMCEE: 9.3. And a 9.7! (crowd cheers) EMCEE: First place,
we got Ogallala! (crowd roars) DAVID MERRILL:
Being able to take it this
far is just, it’s amazing. Knowing that we get to leave
it all out there like that. GROUP: About time! DAVID: Watching it come into
what I always wanted it to be was just an amazing experience. (laughs) CELIE KNUDSEN:
You work with really, really,
really amazing people, and you realize that a poem
is kind of a living thing. It’s always changing. It changes depending
on who’s in the room. That’s the best thing
about slam poetry, right? Is you’re not performing
for a group of people that have PhDs. You’re trying to make the people in the audience feel something. (upbeat music) (rock music) (hammer banging) LYLE HENDERSON: All I ever
wanted to do is be a cowboy. (folk music) LYLE: Part of it by making
saddles. (hammer banging) LYLE:
My folks started this business
in 1942 here in Kearney, and I was born in ’47, and they kept me in a saddle
box when I was a baby. So I grew up in the shop. When I was 12 years old, I built my first saddle
with the help of my dad. (acoustic music) I tried to count up and
keep track of what my dad… and I have made, up to date, as
close as I can come. With him and I combined,
we’ve made right at 3,000. (acoustic music) And I probably made… at least 1,800 of those. But as far as the tooling, he would only use one
flower all the time, and mom did everything different every project she worked
on, and that’s what I do. (acoustic music) Actually, my mom was
way better than my dad, and she’s the one that
taught me how to do that. The idea of tooling, like a
saddle, is it’ll last longer. (hammer banging) Because the leather
is compressed, and it will last longer
than a plain saddle will. (hammer banging) If you’re gonna be
on a horse a lot, say if you wanna be a cowboy,
and you need a saddle, and preferably one that’s not
gonna hurt your horse’s back, and not gonna hurt you. And my dad pretty
well taught me that. He said, “If you’re
not happy with the job, “don’t show it to the customer. “Throw it under the
bench and start over.” (hammer banging) My wife is a great
quality control person. She really looks at every
stitch, and makes sure, because she always says,
“We’re professionals. “We can’t turn out stuff… “that looks half done.” (country music) LYNDA HENDERSON: We have
sent saddles to Canada, Germany, Switzerland,
Brazil, Japan, England. We were surprised
when we first started getting orders from
foreign countries. People are absolutely
in love with anything to do western in
the United States. With an actual saddle, I
do all of the finish work. That means rubbing
down the edges, because after he cuts them,
they’re kind of rough, and I rub ’em down and
make ’em nice and smooth. LYLE: She is probably one of the best finish
people in the business. I’ve never seen
anybody match her, so she’s a lot of help. LYNDA: I
make ’em shiny and pretty. Maybe that’s the way
that I should say it. LYLE: There’s times… at night… I’ll wake up and get to
thinking about something. Two o’clock in the
morning, I’ll come out here and at least draw it out
so I don’t forget it. LYNDA: Yes, he is an artist,
even if he is humble about it. (country music) He’s an artist in other mediums
if he had time to pursue it. LYLE: There are the people
that go out in the morning when it’s still dark, take a halter with
him or a catch rope, and catch their horse
that’s snorting at ’em, and saddle ’em up and take off
just as the sun’s coming up. Those are celebrities to me. (hammer banging) I like to build stuff
for working cowboys. (piano music) (upbeat music) NARRATOR: Perhaps it’s
fitting that on a street named after the architect of
Nebraska’s unicameral system, Senator George Norris, sits a house designed by a man whose name is synonymous
with modern architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright. Located in McCook, it is the first and only
building in Nebraska designed by the
famous architect. It’s over 100 years old, and known by the name of
the couple who built it, Harvey and Elizabeth Sutton. (bluegrass music) In the 1880s, Harvey
Sutton was a musician in the Sells
Brothers Circus Band. The circus traveled the nation
and made stops in Nebraska. According to Sutton
family history, Harvey left the band
to live in Ainsworth, and married a local girl,
Elizabeth Munson, in 1886. He began a new
career as a jeweler, and also formed the Sutton Band. Harvey’s band became so popular, it caught the attention of
some McCook community members. HARVE SUTTON IV: They
recruited him from Ainsworth, got him down there
to lead the band and build the jewelry store, and he lead the Burlington Band. PATTY CORDELL: Which was a big
deal on the Burlington Railroad. He was also the head timekeeper. What do you call that?
HARVE: Yeah, well, he was the head
watchmaker for Burlington. Anyway, that’s where they had all their time-pieces serviced was in his store. (bluegrass music) NARRATOR:
The Suttons were prosperous,
active community members, and in the early 1900s, they were considering
home improvements. STEPHANIE HURST: There was a
friend of great-grandma’s that had planned on building
a Frank Lloyd Wright house, having him design her house,
and then she changed her mind. But great-grandma liked what she saw in the plans, and liked the designs, and so she decided that
was what she wanted to do. NARRATOR: In 1901,
the Ladies Home Journal published a series
of modern home plans by a groundbreaking
American architect named Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was hailed for
designing buildings that were in
harmony with nature. In 1905, the Suttons
commissioned Wright to design their new home, and even though she only
had a basic education, Elizabeth took on the task
of corresponding with Wright. STEPHANIE:
Yes, she was educated, but
when you read her letters, misspellings, her
sentence structure, you know, things like that. You can tell she just had
the rudimentary education, that a girl would’ve
had back in 18… whatever. She knew what she wanted
and she was gonna get it. PATTY:
And that’s one of the reasons why we have the
letters is because STEPHANIE: Exactly.
PATTY: What we think is she wrote her letters longhand in what
she wanted to say, and then I think she recopied them to send, and cleaned up whatever
needed to be fixed. NARRATOR: The letters
between Elizabeth and Frank Lloyd Wright provide a window into
their relationship. STEPHANIE: In the information
when we were researching this… says apparently, in
about September of 1907, Wright had the audacity
to ask for payment for the work that
had already been done by himself and his office. The exorbitant fee was $300. Granny Cricket was
quick to respond. And she said that a
house on the ground, not on paper, and we’re not spending
more than $5,000. That her husband is not
writing a check for it, that they just have
a hole in the ground, and he’s disgusted with it. NARRATOR: Elizabeth also
took on the role of contractor. Following Wright’s build book, she ordered the
building materials, hired all the subcontractors,
and supervised their work. Without consulting him, she made small modifications
to Wright’s designs. And in 1908, construction on
the Sutton house was complete. PATTY: Great-Grandma did
not follow his designs exactly as he designed. He came to visit one time. He always wore a cape, and
according to my father, said that he came in and he
took one look around and said, “It was an abomination
of his work,” and threw his cape over
and left, and that was it. NARRATOR: In the 1930s, a house fire destroyed
a portion of the home. HARVE: When the fire went
through, it burned the beams off
that held the porch up. NARRATOR: Wright’s
trademark cantilevered porch wasn’t the only loss. HARVE: The house burned
during prohibition. As the whiskey bottles
blew up in the attic, the tears really rolled. (laughs) That was according to my aunt. (laughs) NARRATOR: Elizabeth and
Harvey lived in their home until their deaths in 1952. Their home passed to their son, the grandfather of Harve,
Patty, and Stephanie. HARVE: That’s where we all
went for Christmas. Uncles, aunts, cousins, we
all stayed in the house. NARRATOR: In 1960, the
Sutton House was put up for sale and purchased by a local doctor, who turned it into
a small hospital. The doctor enclosed the
property with a concrete fence, and installed
several fish ponds. When he retired,
the Sutton House, now the shadow of Frank
Lloyd Wright’s vision, went up for sale where it
sat on the market so long, the doctor considered
demolishing it. JANET KORELL: Don
and Mary Poore bought the house from the doctor when
it was a clinic. NARRATOR: In 1978,
at the 11th hour, the Sutton House was
purchased by a McCook couple, Don and Mary Poore. JANET: And it was all chopped up
into all these little rooms, and all these little hallways, and had an operating
room and an x-ray room. And I’m not sure how many
people would’ve had the vision at that point, to what this
house had been and could be. And Don and Mary stepped
in, bought the house, and with their son, Tom, worked on the
restoration for 10 years. So I really think they
need to be credited with saving the house. NARRATOR: Though the Poores saved the house from demolition, and turned it back into a home, it was Janet and Van Korrell who restored it to Frank
Lloyd Wright’s vision. JANET:
When we came on board, there
was another owner in between, it was never about us owning
the house, or what we could do. It was always about the house. It’s an important historical
part of this community, and it needed to be
saved and restored, and we were just fortunate
enough to be able to do that. NARRATOR: The Korrells
bought the Sutton House in the early 1990s, but the inspiration
to restore their home came several years later, while touring Frank Lloyd
Wright buildings in Chicago. JANET: For me, certainly,
it was like, this really is a bigger deal
than maybe I even realized. This house is
really significant. We also contracted with
an architect back there whose name is John Thorpe, and he’s an expert on
Frank Lloyd Wright. He came out to the house
shortly after we got back, and looked over the project,
and agreed to be our architect. So we worked with the experts, because we wanted to
do it right, correctly, right , (laughs) you know. (piano music) NARRATOR: Construction
began in May of 1999. VAN KORELL: As far as the
construction part of it, she was heavily
involved in that, and I was at work
most of the time. JANET: His business was
being totally renovated and built onto at the same time. (laughs) Our life was construction. We lived here as the
house was restored. All the people we used
on the restoration were McCook people,
McCook businesses, because we felt it was
important to the community that we used local people, rather than bring people
in for the restoration. NARRATOR: The house was
stripped down to the studs and rebuilt from the inside out. 7,200 feet of quarter
sawn oak installed. The stained glass windows based on the original designs remade, and the beams that held the cantilevered
porch roof replaced. JANET: This house had
those big columns holding up the front porch roof
after the fire in the ’30s. And so, this was all tarped off. It was kinda like an unveiling, and they dropped the
tarp off the cantilever, and it was like,
that is awesome. You know, it was just amazing to see that roof
just hang there. (piano music) VAN: The single most memorable
moment for me would be when the restoration
was complete. (Janet laughs) The last nail was driven
in September of 2001. NARRATOR: The
restoration’s completing also brought some
unexpected attention. JANET: Some ladies were
peering in the window. They were up like this, peering
in the dining room window. And so, I just walked
out the back door, and I walked around, and
I said, “Can I help you?” Oh, they about jumped
out of their skin. They said, “You
mean you live here?” And I said, “Yeah, really.” (laughs) So there’s a lot of
fun stories like that, and you meet a lot
of neat people. VAN: But I would
say all in all, people are very respectful. JANET: Yeah. VAN: They respect
your privacy. NARRATOR: 100
years after Wright designed the Sutton House, it’s still a home that
works for a modern family. VAN: Well, there are just
so many unique features. You’re just surrounded by
comfort, in my opinion. There are so many places that
you can rest in the evening, read, or whatever you wanna do. You can go to a
different location in
the house every night for several nights, and
you’re never in the same spot. So you don’t get bored. There’s plenty of interesting
things to appreciate, look at, understand. JANET: It’s just the whole
philosophy he had about bringing the outside in, and living with the
environment in and out. It really is kind of
an amazing way to live. NARRATOR: After
all their work to restore the Sutton House, the Korrells have taken
steps to ensure its future. VAN: We’ve made arrangements
so that the house… in perpetuity, will be
in its present form. With this effort, we
need to preserve this, and so that’s pretty
well taken care of. JANET: I’m very grateful that
we were able to do this, that Van got on board
with my crazy ideas. Yeah, I’m a very lucky person. (uplifting music) (orchestral music) (slow piano music) NARRATOR: A flock of
ceramic birds, delicate beauty. An expression of freedom,
says their creator. It’s art with a
powerful message. ELISA WOLCOT: The number is
estimated to be about 2,000 known victims of sex
trafficking in Nebraska. And those are reported cases. That is horrific. Each of the birds,
there are 2,000 of them, each of the birds represents
a victim of sex trafficking. (slow piano music) NARRATOR: 2,000 Souls let University of Nebraska
at Omaha art student, Elisa Wolcot, combine
work for a sculpture class with an issue she’s
passionate about. ELISA: This is a project that
is raising awareness about sex trafficking
in Nebraska, in tandem with raising money
for a non-profit here in Omaha, to help support them, and to help support
victims of trafficking in our local area. I knew I wanted
a non-traditional
location for the piece. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be a public
piece to raise awareness, and that wasn’t
gonna be as effective in a traditional
gallery setting. AIRPORT ANNOUNCEMENT:
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re looking for bags
from Dallas flight 448… NARRATOR: It took
weeks of tedious work to create 2,000 plus
sparrow-like birds
in three sizes. (slow piano music) ELISA:
I ended up making 50 molds, and then I could
cast 24 at a time. Then I would come in and do that anywhere from two to four times
a day of casting. (laughs) Casting birds. So yeah, it was
quite the process. NARRATOR: Sales of
the birds raised money for a sex trafficking
victims shelter, but Wolcot hopes the
impact of 2,000 Souls is more than that. ELISA: You know,
ultimately, it’s like, let’s eradicate this from our
area, because not on my turf. That’s like the
biggest dream is like, this is gonna be over. I refuse to see
this happen anymore. It’s just gotta stop. (laughs) It’s just gotta stop. (rock music) NARRATOR: Watch our
stories online at netNebraska.org/nebraskastories, and go to Facebook to like
us and leave a comment. Join the Nebraska
Stories conversation. Nebraska Stories is funded by the Margaret and
Martha Thomas Foundation, the Nebraska Office
of Highway Safety, the Nebraska Tourism
Commission, First Nebraska Bank, and the Brownville
Fine Arts Association. Sustained funding for arts
coverage is provided by the H. Lee and Carol
Gendler Charitable Fund. (rock music) Copyright 2017,
NET Foundation for Television (rock music)

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