Shane Koyczan

Click here to read Shane Koyczan in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Shane Koyczan, writer, poet, spoken word artist (b at YELLOWKNIFE, NWT 22 May 1976). Koyczan grew up inPENTICTON, British Columbia. In an interview with QUILL AND QUIRE, Koyczan states that in high school he would prepare answers to questions and pre-write conversations to help him communicate better. Koyczan went on to Okanagan University College in BC, where he took creative writing. There, his writing professor suggested that he should focus on poetry rather than fiction, launching Koyczan’s future in spoken word. He is a co-founder of the spoken word “talk rock” trio Tons of Fun University (TOFU), and has performed around the globe at universities and at music and literary festivals. Unlike many spoken word artists, Koyczan makes his living from poetry and spoken word performances. His writing and performance is vital, witty and sincere: he reaches the hearts of his audiences with his powerful verses and has brought the Canadian spoken word movement to the international stage.

Visiting Hours (2005) is Shane Koyczan’s first book, published by Mother Press Media, which he co-founded. The book is a compilation of his poetry/spoken word pieces that delve into the intricacies of human emotion. Koyczan takes simple metaphors and everyday occurrences, the uncomfortable, sad and funny, and draws out their complexities and their beauty. Visiting Hours was selected as one of the books of the year by the Guardian (UK) and the GLOBE AND MAIL.

Stick Boy (2008) is a novel in free verse that surveys the misery of being bullied and the reversal of taking that pain and inflicting it on others. Drawing on the aphorism “sticks and stones may break my bones” and combining that with the idea of a bullied person as a stick of dynamite waiting to explode, the novel poignantly explores the choices one must make in life, despite the disturbing circumstances that may be thrust upon us.

Shane Koyczan won the 2004 CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off, and is the first non-American poet to win the US National Individual Poetry Slam. His work was featured on Heart of a Poet, a documentary series produced by filmmaker Maureen Judge and aired on Bravo television. Koyczan was commissioned by the Canadian Tourism Commission to write a poem, which was unveiled on PARLIAMENT Hill during the 2007 Canada Day celebrations. The poem, “We Are More,” has also been performed across the country, including at the opening of the 2010 Winter OLYMPIC GAMES in Vancouver, BC. Koyczan has been featured on CBC, NPR, BBC, and ABC (Australia) radio.

Author CHARLENE DAVIS

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