Blackout Poetry: Veteran Suicides

Michael Anthony 9 Comments

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Blackout Poetry Logo WarIn case you’re not familiar with Blackout Poetry, Blackout Poetry is the act of creating poems by blacking out words that appear in newspaper articles (or books, but typically newspaper articles). I was inspired to give it a shot after being introduced to it by Austin Kleon. I’ve got a six month subscription to The Army Times and I’ll be experimenting with it throughout the next few months.

 —Blackout Poetry veteran suicides

This was an article that appeared in the April 13th 2015 edition of The Army Times. The article discussed veteran suicides across active duty and reserve/national guard soldiers. In 2014 suicides decreased for active duty soldiers but increased for reserve soldiers. With 22 veterans killing themselves every day in the United States (we’ve lost two to suicide from the unit I served with in Iraq) this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. I tried to boil down the article into its major points and through the redaction process I came up with the poem pictures above (and transcribed below).

Suicides Up

Suicides confirmed

it was their own

hand.

Suicides Down

Service members

protect us

support them.

Crisis line, 800-273-8255

 For more military/war related blackout poetry click here.

To learn more about the war-time military experience check out the following book:

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

Comments 9

  1. EL

    I was just looking at your CAB blackout poetry too and I really like both but this one was really simple and I liked how it matched up, “Suicides UP” and “Suicides DOWN.” Very simple and to the point. I served back in 08′ and we didn’t lose any guys to suicide but I know a lot were having hard times over there and once we came back, a few guys I know are still struggling with PTSD but luckly none of them have gone the full extent.

  2. EL

    You could even blackout everything except for the “Crisis Number” that could be powerful too. I really like the idea of this blackout poetry though.

    1. Michael Anthony

      Anything can be poetry. Black out poetry is unique in that it limits the words that you can use, which makes the poetry harder. There’s also definitely an arts and crafts feel to it, which is fun and adds a new element. More than anything, it’s something to experiment with. Poetry isn’t something that’s set-in-stone.

  3. Ann Abbitz

    As someone whose family was in the military, this really hits home. My heart just breaks for all of them who come back home and just can’t seem to get acclimated back yet into “normal” life. And to reply to Peter W., to me poetry is anything that will touch your soul…..and this definitely touches mine.

  4. Connor James

    So the poem would actually read:

    Suicides Up

    Suicides confirmed

    it was their own

    hand.

    Suicides Down

    Service members

    protect us

    support them.

    Crisis line, 800-273-8255

    Not really a poem to me. But it reads better than the Combat Action Badge Blackout Poetry poem that you wrote. This one is definitely more along the lines of what you should be going for.

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