“check your blind spot. See that love is still there, be patient.
Every nightmare has a beginning, but every bad day has an end.
Ignore what others have called you. I am calling you friend.”
~Shane Koyczan, Instructions For A Bad Day
If you’ve lamented the death of poetry, lament no longer.
John-Paul Sartre said: “Every age has its own poetry; in every age the circumstances of history choose a nation, a race, a class to take up the torch by creating situations that can be expressed or transcended only through poetry.”
The spoken-word poetry of Shane Koyczan is the poetry of our age: He is finding the words and creating the space to express this generation’s brutal battle with bullying. And in doing so, he is making poetry relevant again.
This young Canadian poet, writer and musician is the critically-acclaimed author of three books, one CD, and several videos. His poems and videos are both fine art and practical ‘tools’ that he shares with the world–and they are being warmly embraced. To This Day, which launched a creative campaign to end bullying and fight despair, has received more than 8 million hits on YouTube.
His work is raw and meditative at the same time. Like all good poetry it hurts a little to listen to, but it’s worth the pain. Here I will refer you to Emily Dickison who said: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Another of his anti-bullying projects is Instructions For A Bad Day. It’s a profoundly moving spoken-word poem and video project that Shane worked on with students–and it speaks directly to some very recent and very public cases of teenage bullying and suicide in Canada. I wish I’d seen it when I was a kid–but I’m glad it’s out there now.
Shades of another great Canadian poet, Leonard Cohen.
You’ll find Shane’s poetry (downloadable!) on his website (http://www.shanekoyczan.com) and on ITunes. And you can follow him on Twitter @Koyczan and Facebook. He’s also just performed his first TEDTalk.
Want more? You can hear his smooth voice in this video for Educate the Heart, a project by The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. The project aims to “educate the heart and foster compassion through creative learning, facilitating and applying research, and connecting people and ideas.”
And so, maybe one day, kids like Shane won’t be bullied at school, won’t grow up with gaping emotional scars, and won’t be told that their dreams don’t matter.
I live in hope.