A powerful poem by Canadian spoken word artist Shane Koyczan has attracted more than 1.4 million YouTube views since it was uploaded two days ago. To This Day is part of an online project where he asked animators to help illustrate his poem.
The seven-minute anti-bullying poem is complemented by visuals courtesy of dozens of artists who lent their skills to Koyczan's words.
On his website, Koyczan explains, "This collaborative volunteer effort will demonstrate what a community of caring individuals are capable of when they come together."
Writing poetry to stress the importance of curbing bullying has always central for Koyczan. In the YouTube video description, Koyczan says, "My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways."
Some choice lines from the poem include, Every school was a big top circus tent and the pecking order went from acrobats to lion tamers from clowns to carnies; all of these were 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; but at night while the others slept we kept walking the tightrope it was practice and yeah some of us fell.
Later, the poem takes us an inspirational tone for those who've been bullied:
We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them; we stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called; we are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway and if in some way we are, don’t worry, we only got out to walk and get gas
According to the video's statistics, it has attracted more than 33,400 Likes, and more than 5,400 comments.
The poem-video has impacted many notable personalities, including sex columnist Dan Savage. He told Koyczan his poem “had me crying into my salad at O’Hare airport. Seriously.”
A long-time resident of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Koyczan began his poetry career as a member of the Vancouver Poetry Slam team. Later, he worked with musicians to begin Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long, a band that has toured Canada and released several albums.
Most notably, Koyczan won worldwide fame when he performed a poem about Canada during the 2012 Vancouver Olympics' Opening Ceremony.