Thursday, January 16, 2014

To This Day: Poetry in Action from Shane Koyczan

"If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror."
-Shane Koyczan, "To This Day"

For some time now I had been planning to share "To This Day," Shane Koyczan's poetic testament to the bullied and beautiful.  Given that the video went viral a year ago, it came as a complete surprise when, last Friday, I learned from Mary Ann Scheuer at Great Kid Books that this moving spoken word poem has been turned into an app-- a Cybil-nominated app no less!  (Alas, my life is so sheltered without an iPad or smartphone.)

If any single contemporary poet could inspire me to spread my wings, this Canadian writer and performer might be the one.  If I let myself, I could spend hours on You Tube, watching videos of his work over and over again because each time there is something new and remarkable to discover.  But maybe that's not true of everyone.  Should I postpone my own coverage of "To This Day" since Mary Ann already did such a fabulous job last week?  After some hemming and hawing, I concluded that because Mary Ann only linked to the app, not the video (and moreso, because I can't help myself), it wouldn't hurt to have two Shane Koyczan weeks in a row.  Just call me Fangirl.

Shane Koyczan says of "To This Day": 
My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.
I wrote “To This Day”, a spoken word poem, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.
Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point… A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.
Yes, this a video about the harmful effects of bullying, but the message we are left with is positive and empowering.  It's about overcoming our histories, testing our boundaries, and exploring the freedom of possibility.  It is about learning how to fly.  It is also an example of what can happen when a caring community of 86 animators and motion artists come together to donate their time and talents to a singular cause.   I think you will agree, The result is seamless, powerful, moving, and inspirational.

For those of you whose appetites have only been whetted, here's a link to his TED talk where you can hear the back story.  And another spoken word poem titled "Remember How We Forgot" in a live performance that also features his compatriot, violinist and rising singer/songwriter Hannah Epperson:

Ultimately, my ambition is his ambition: to "burn like an ember capable of of starting fires, like each moment inspires the next."

Though my history and choices have carved my own path, the goal is the same:

Look directly into every mirror
Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story
And our story starts:
"We were here."
                       - Shane Koyczan, "Remember How We Forgot"

And from here, you may want to find your way over to Keri Recommends, where inspiration is also at hand.  Today birthday girl Keri is celebrating more than just the Poetry Friday roundup!


  1. Yes, I remember watching it last year. Excellent piece of work! Thanks for posting it today, Michelle, it's worth watching over and over again.

  2. It's inspiring to see the ways poetry can change young lives for the better. (Poetic minds think alike -- my post today starts out with a mirror, too...)

  3. I have a former student who, and with his team, has found spoken word poetry to be a lifeline as he travels some different paths from the usual high school student. I haven't seen this, Michelle, so thank you. It touches me both personally and professionally.

  4. Hadn't seen the video before, so thanks for sharing it! Shane's words are so powerful and inspiring. Very cool that there's an app now too.

  5. I only recently heard this for the first time on NPR - I remember being in my car and being blown away by the (seemingly effortless but really well done) sounds of the words and the significance of their meaning. I remember thinking I wish every kid could be exposed to it - glad to learn many are! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Wow. I moved from Laura's post to yours and am amazed at all the wonderfully creative ways in which the human experience is described and made alive. Thanks, Michelle.

    1. I agree! Such resonance of POSITIVE ideas. It's all about how we tell the story...what we do with the stuff of our lives...

  7. Wowza! I am also completely out of the techie loop so I've never seen this. Thanks so much for introducing me to this whole world!

  8. Wow. I haven't seen this either. I don't think it could really be shared too much. Thanks for sending it out again so it could reach more people.

  9. Michelle,
    Laura said you need to see the limerick I posted today at Are you especially good with limericks? Do you have a welshie? Is your dog a comedian?

  10. I'm glad you decided to go ahead with this post and that you shared the video. I am techno inept so I'm glad to be able to see this video. Thank you for sharing it, Michelle! =)