I discovered Shane Koyczan for the first time at my stepdaughter’s high school graduation ceremony, when one of the young men in her class performed a poem entitled “Remember How We Forgot.” It really moved me, and I went home and downloaded it onto my MP3 player so that I could hear it again, and again, and again-- and investigated. Who is this Koyczan guy that he can get teenage guys to voluntarily perform poetry in front of huge crowds of people?
The answer is—he’s a Canadian spoken word poet and writer, and he’s amazing. His performance of his poem “To This Day: for the bullied and the beautiful” went viral on Youtube, and he performed it in a TED talk as well. In that poem, he shares his own experience of being bullied, and finding the strength not to internalize the cruelty. Here is a small piece, and I urge you to check out the full performance:
I’m not the only kid
who grew up this way
surrounded by people who used to say
that rhyme about sticks and stones
as if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called
and we got called them all
so we grew up believing no one
would ever fall in love with us
that we’d be lonely forever
that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun
was something they built for us
in their tool shed
We just purchased a graphic novel version of To This Day, with beautiful emotive illustrations by thirty international artists. Check it out.
And click on the play button below to hear Koyzcan perform.