Richard Buckles – “Iowa City’s very own Street Harmonicist”

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00:07:51 minutes

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date

Spring 4-1-2013


Rhetoric 0072


Tom Keegan


Richard Buckles, a long-time resident of Iowa City, remarks on his short-lived career as a printing press manager, his struggle with mental illness, and his experiences within the Iowa City community as a street harmonicist.

From the group's rhetorical rationale:

Ryan Kunkle: I wanted to challenge the audience’s beliefs and make them uncomfortable. I wanted to make my classmates think about those in Iowa City that we rarely give a second thought about, those that we walk past each day in order to pretend to ourselves that poverty doesn’t exist in our “nice little liberal” college town. My speech was intentionally uncomfortable in tone in order to confront the ways in which we conduct our day-to-day lives. I ended my speech by explaining that this audio essay is important because it introduces a real person who would otherwise fade into the numbers and statistics of poverty and mental illness, which we find easy to detach ourselves from and even ignore.

Sarah Hunter: The personal aspects of Richard’s life that he shared with us are interesting and show Richard’s willingness to be open. I shared these details with my classmates, suggesting to them that my group’s radio essay was an intimate and therefore genuine and thought-provoking reflection of Richard. My last goal for this presentation was to show the audience how positive Richard is about his life and interest them in hearing more about his unique perspective. Sharing with the class, Richard’s classification of his street performing as a career showed them that he has a very different way of looking at things than maybe the majority of society and the radio essay may offer more of these unique points of view.

Matt Johnson: My approach in this section was to talk about his attitude about life and discuss his psychological victory over his challenges. At the end I said, “when life doesn’t give you lemons you just have to put up with it” to emphasize the extent to which he has psychologically overcome his challenges and surprise the audience by giving the cliche a “twist.”


319 Lucas Street, Iowa City, IA 52246


Copyright © 2013 Sarah Hunter, Matt Johnson and Ryan Kunkle


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More information about the images available on http://ir.uiowa.edu/ideal_inp_images/