Canadian native and poet Shane Koyczan has made a very prominent name for himself with his poem, “To This Day.” The poem was first uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 19 and has since been viewed nearly seven million times – and counting.
Koyczan’s poem has resulted in an anti-bullying movement he is calling the To This Day Project. In essence, the poem features the story of three youngsters, one of whom is Koyczan himself, who have grown up with the haunting recollections of being bullied. He reminds us of this troubling reality when he says, “I’m not the only kid who grew up this way – surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones as if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called and we got called them all.” Although the topic of bullying is not one completely out of earshot, the fact remains that Koyczan is speaking of a very real and dangerous actuality – one that has apparently sparked quite a reaction.
According to DoSomething.org, over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying every year. “1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4 percent of the time,” DoSomething.org reported.
Having faced these statistics head-on, Koyczan’s voice resonates deeply with his listeners. He recently performed his poem at a TED Talks conference. “If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror,” he told the crowd.
To date, Koyczan has written three works of fiction: Visiting Hours (2005), Stickboy (2007) and Our Deathbeds will be Thirsty (2012). Take his ambition for what you will, but one thing is certain, this Canadian isn’t taking a break anytime soon. He concludes his poem with one final gesture: “But our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty.”