04/21/2015 06:14 EDT | Updated 06/21/2015 05:59 EDT

This Canadian Spoken Word Artist Brings New Relevance to Poetry

Shane Koyczan brings relevance to poetry, because he is inimitably relatable. He makes beautiful art from pain and speaks openly about his struggles with acquired brain injury. His candor about his struggles serve to reinforce the message: You are not alone.

Kris Connor via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28: Shane Koyczan performs during YouTube On Stage Live from the Kennedy Center at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on May 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

The internet is abuzz following Canadian spoken word superstar Shane Koyczan's recent appearance on CBC's q. It's also National Poetry Month, which is a pretty big deal when you are a poet of Shane's caliber. I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver last month and he was incredible.

Shane and I have some things in common. He lives in the Okanagan, B.C. and I spent some of my teenage years there. We both have aboriginal ancestry. We are both writers, but he sold out the Vogue, so we are clearly nowhere near in the same realm. I had a really amazing time watching him and there were some things that struck me in his performance.

1) Poetry isn't lame. Shane talked about the way people associate poetry with their first experiences comprised of boring poems in high school that weren't relevant to their lives. Shane brings relevance to poetry, because he is inimitably relatable. Sometimes, to see something clearly, you have to set it on fire. That's what Shane does for poetry, he ignites it with passion and you can see it. Upon reflection, it seems like the fun and exciting poetry children are exposed to that we call "children's literature" gets lost. It isn't categorized as "poetry" until it's presented in a form the adolescent audience isn't always ready to understand. That's why we lose the magic of poetry; we don't recognize it the first time around.

2) Pretty is a lie. Shane talked about his imaginative responses to "If you could change something about your body, what would it be?" It was really fascinating to hear about struggles around body image from a man's perspective. Shane deconstructed the necessity of outward beauty in the most eloquent manner. He spoke about compassion. A lot of people don't understand the connection between compassion and body image, but it really is crucial: compassion for others and compassion for self.

3) When your heart is broken, make art from it. Shane made beautiful art from pain. He spoke openly about his struggles with acquired brain injury. His words are equally relatable from the perspective of someone struggling with depression, in terms of the frustration that your brain isn't working the way it used to and you aren't able to access the things you need in the way you always have.

Shane's candor about his struggles served to reinforce the message: You are not alone. He said, "Some people require more light than others, so make extra." Shane made an awful lot of light and left us all in his word dust.

This review originally appeared on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops


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