I first heard of Shane Koyzcan through his To This Day Project which addressed bullying and the effects of bullying.
He is the shy Canadian voice I wrote about in my first post (link), a spoken word artist whose mastery of language and connection, of description and cadence is beautiful. He’s a story teller with a purpose, someone who can weave personal stories into grand narratives into inspiration and reveille.
For this I greatly, greatly, greatly admire and respect him. I’m a bit envious, too.
He has been writing, publishing, speaking, and presenting since at least 2000, making the Guardian and Globe and Mail “Best Books of the Year” lists in 2005, performing at the 2010 Opening Ceremony for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and giving a Ted Talk (link) in 2013. He’s also written several books.
His To This Day Project, a short film, is like a symphony, each movement building upon another, all working in concert to produce, through word and music and visual arts, a crescendo that serves as both a credo and a call-to-arms. He begins with an anecdote from his childhood that led to an unfortunate nickname and the teasing that resulted from it. This personal story descends into the telling of the he and other students received in school and the effects of it. From there, his poem soars, giving a message to those who were bullied, a reason to keep struggling, to learn and to know and to believe a single phrase above all others:
They were wrong.
In that one sentence, Koyczan is neither soft-spoken or shy. He is defiant and forceful and bold. He is demanding that
He is right, too.
Those who can’t see anything beautiful about themselves
Get a better mirror
Look a little closer
Stare a little longer
Because there’s something inside you
That made you keep trying
I want everyone to see this video. Whether they’ve been bullied or not, whether they appreciate poetry or not. Everyone. It just may destroy the sense of isolation in those who need connection; perhaps it may create empathy in those who need it the most.
I believe that his voice is one of those voices that need to be amplified. Not just should, not just could, but needs to be heard by anyone. If we want to teach empathy and compassion, we need to share voices that do so. If we wish to bring relief and the knowledge to others that they are not alone, that they are not the only ones who wish to feel this way, we need to share voices that do so. If we want to help others and ourselves build a better world, we must share voices that do so.
We must amplify.
You can find out more about Shane and his work at www.shanekoyczan.com.
Thanks for reading.