Vainuupo Avegalio (AV) is an amateur poet and visual artist. He has performed his readings throughout the US most recently entering many homes by way of documentary called We Are Not Done Yet. Both his poetry and his art deal with war experience and trauma. It places the bloody and uncomfortable story of his truth, in your face. Art and poetry are his way of dealing with, guilt, anger, depression, and suicidal ideology which coupled with multiple injuries sustained while serving overseas ended his military career. He now travels the United States and its territories conducting art and poetry workshops with at risk youth, current and former inmates, first responders, veterans, and those suffering from mental illness in hope’s to better their quality of life.

Military life has been a blessing and a curse. It has taken me to places I could have only dreamed of growing up on the Samoan islands. I have seen horror, destruction, merciless acts of inhumanity. I have seen gallantry and heroism. I have sent and welcomed many good friends’ home. I have been shot at by enemies and spit on by the people we have fought to protect. Through 12 years of service and still counting, a battle deep within grew stronger with each breath and every thought. A battle with myself.

This battle eventually took its toll, leaving me gasping for air, drowning in my own shallow grave. The feeling of regret and hate left me unable to love, feel, or care. Unable to look my mother in her eyes and tell her I love her. The emptiness and pain inside took my wife, my friends (dead & living),my family and almost my life. I needed an outlet. Art & Poetry have become a highway to healing. I love working with acrylic paint, but I consider myself a mixed media artist. Experimenting with THIS IS MY PATH TO REDEMPTION.

See AV’S Story on Instagram

See AV’s Artwork and read more about his story.