When my grandfather died two autumns ago, I wrote some poems about it because that’s part of how I process things, and I started thinking about obituaries. There’s something absurdly reductive about them — trying to sum up an entire human life in a few inches of newspaper copy. Even the most well-written obits can only scratch the surface.
And then I thought — what if I leaned into that? What if I tried to push that inherent absurdity further? I had been wanting to try my hand at blackout poetry, which is a form where you take a found text and choose words from it to form a poem, blacking everything else out. And so that’s what I did with my grandfather’s obituary, which ended up, in this new version, a scant eight words long. They don’t say much, but for those who knew him, they unlock a greater recognition. And maybe that’s the point.
“Obituary” has been published by Months to Years in their Winter 2023 edition. (The page has a partial image in the header, so make sure to scroll down to see the whole thing.)