The Skinny Event - Shane Koyczan @ Charlotte Square Gardens, 22 Aug

Koyczan’s ‘We Are More’ is the only poem I’ve ever read that made me want to be a Canadian.

Feature by Keir Hind | 31 Jul 2008
  • Shane Koyczan

Grab a ticket quick, because the fantastic Master Poetry Slammer Mr Koyczan was one of the hits of the festival on his last appearance in 2005, so they're in demand. What are his poems like, you say? His poems are varied. He can hold an audience spellbound in numerous ways. Have you ever thought it strange that we’ve all seen stand-up comedy, and yet there’s an absence of stand-up drama? Have you ever wondered why stand-up acts even need to limit themselves to evoking one thing, that one thing usually being laughter? Having read this do you miss feelng fear, anger and sympathy, all from a spoken word perfomer, or even schadenfreude, hubris and ennui? Ah, then you need to see Koyczan.

This is not to say he isn’t funny – not to say that at all, because he can be hilarious if need be. But he’s more than that, and stand-up poetry in general is more than that. The strength of the form is that it, like music, can convey so much more than just laughs, and Koyczan can make an audience feel just about any way he wants. And what does he want? Often, he seems to want to be uplifting. He often leaves the stage to mass cheering from audiences who feel a lot better than they did when they went in, however well they may have been feeling before. What are his poems about? All sorts of things. Koyczan’s ‘We Are More’, commissioned by Canada’s tourist agency, is the only poem I’ve ever read that made me want to be a Canadian. His ‘Beethoven’ somehow conjures up the mindset of a tortured genius, his ‘This is My Voice’ explains the importance of being able to speak out, his ‘Grandma’s Got It Going On’ finds new meaning in that old phrase ‘rise and shine’, and they all do these things in around three minutes each. We've linked to some of them online in the web version of this article. At our event he’ll be on for an hour and a quarter, so God knows what he’ll put us through. But I know we’ll be richer for the experience, because I like him, and The Skinny likes him. Come along, because we think you’ll like him too.

Shane Koyczan will be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 22 of August from 7-8.15 pm.