Canadian poet and writer Shane Koyczan's To This Day was featured below a few weeks ago because it's an excellent personal narrative amplified by its visual presentation. That version of the poem was sent by Koyczan to his fans earlier this year with the message: "My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways. Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point." This video went viral and has touched the lives of many in a short time.
Koyczan was asked to speak at the 2013 version of TED in Long Beach, California. That live presentation took place during the session called "Secret Voices" on Thursday, February 28. Fortunately for those who could not be in the room live, TED put it up on the their site rather quickly. I like this version as much or perhaps even more than the animated version. The words may be the same, but if it is authentic, the delivery will feel natural, like the words are being spoken for the first time. And if Koyczan is anything it is authentic. Authenticity is risky—and what could be riskier and more vulnerable that speaking of your pain in front of a group of strangers. Remarkable and inspiring. This TED version below includes Koyczan standing before the audience live, front and center, and is subtly augmented by some animation displayed at times as well as live musical accompaniment. I love the way Koyczan eased his way into the poem and brings you inside his story in such a way that one forgets this is a man on stage reciting his poem. If it is a good story told well we become unaware of the medium. What matters is the feeling. What lingers long after the performance is the meaning. Even if you have seen Koyczan's To This Day before, it is worth seeing again...and sharing it with others.
"They asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be."
“I've been shot down so many times I get altitude sickness just from standing up for myself.”
“If you can't see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror.”
• Shane Koyczan's website