Shine On

Shane Koyczan: B.C. poet’s anti-bullying video goes viral, warms hearts


British Columbia poet and spoken word artist Shane Koyczan has written a powerful animated video of a poem about bullying, and it’s taking the internet by storm. More than a million people have viewed the video in the two days since it was first posted.

You may remember Koyczan for his performance at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where he read his poem “We Are More.” His latest creation is a seven minute YouTube video is called “To This Day” (above). It features words by Koyczan and animated images by a long list of contributors.

The video tells the story of Koyczan’s own experience being bullied in school, as well as the narratives of two other victims, a girl with a birthmark on her face and a boy who suffers from depression.

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An excerpt reveals his poignant use of language.

“Every school was a big top circus tent and the picking order went from acrobats to lion tamers, from clowns to carnies, all of these miles ahead of who we were. We were freaks. Lobster-claw boys and bearded ladies, oddities juggling depression and loneliness, playing solitaire, spin the bottle trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal.”

On his website, Koyczan explains his motivation for creating “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… 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.”

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This isn’t the first time Koyczan has spoken out about bullying. After the death of British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd, the writer was one of a group of prominent locals who advocated for better monitoring of Facebook, reports theVancouver Sun. Todd committed suicide after being tormented online.

Below Koyczan's video he writes the following words.

"Help this message have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying. Please share generously."

With 1,258,804 views and counting -- so far, so good.

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