Shane Koyczan

Shane Koyczan

BandSpoken WordFolk

Shane Koyczan is one of the world's premier spoken word artists & has rocked stages from Edinburgh to Vancouver to Sydney with his poems. He won the US National Individual Slam Championship and has appeared on the same stages as Salman Rushdie, Saul Williams & Richard E. Grant.


Shane Koyczan is one of the world's premier spoken word performers. His book, Visiting Hours, was hailed as a Books of the Year Selection by The Guardian (UK) and the Globe and Mail (Canada) newspapers.

Born and raised in northwestern Canada, Shane was the first poet from outside the USA to win the prestigious USA National Individual Poetry Slam.

Shane is launching the second season of Heart of a Poet on Bravo TV, Thursday, September 6 at 8PM. The Bravo poetry series airs every Thursday at 8pm.

He has performed to full houses around the world - from university amphitheaters to the most respected music and literary festivals. He has rocked the stage at the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Vancouver International Writers Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the 2007 Canada Day Celebrations in Ottawa.

Acclaim for Shane's poetry and performance has come from many diverse and respected sources - from renown rockers Gordon Downey, Joel Pott & Dave Bidini to David Robinson, Literary Editor of The Scotsman, and Patrick Neate, winner of the Whitbread Prize and host of London's Bookslam.

Shane brings enormous vitality and virtuosity to every performance. His warmth, wit and sincerity are a hit with crowds of all ages. His lyricism inspires audiences and readers alike because Shane's poems speak directly to the heart.

...and so, a whole new generation of rhyme readers will be born. - David Bidini, Globe and Mail Newspaper, 2005.


Skin 3

Written By: Shane Koyczan

Skin 3

The night we met
was the first night I stopped making comparisons
left the ghost of an ex-lover
tap-tap-tapping on the window
as if a sheet of glass was enough to say
you can’t come in tonight
we left the light on
because I had to see you for who you were
and who you were
was not her
which was a comfort
beyond all measure of comparison

skin tells you how to touch it
if you listen
and yours has been yelling
telling stories of yes and no
stop and go slow
like a snail that knows
the next rainfall
is at least
a week away

I listen to your skin say
right there
as if there was where
goosebumps become speed bumps
my fingers become tree trunks
slowly growing into forests

skin becomes kindling
as we begin smoke-signalling
lips to move in
your mouth was a bargain bin
and I was looking for a deal
it was practically boxing day
when I heard your skin say
your clothes
were one hundred percent
and your concerns
were out of stock

I could listen to your skin talk
for the better part of a week
so long as it would speak to me of you
turning knowledge into a residue
whose value
is determined by how much pressure I apply
when I place my hands
where you want me to

few are the smiles
that I have sought
with such relentlessness
as if to dismiss
all other aspects of my life
focus on now
and how it is you came to be
an answer to the question
I asked myself
the last time I was alone

I’ve grown from the head down
refusing to plant my feet on the ground
because only statues were made
to stand still

I will walk to you
so long as I can hear your skin say
you’ve got my back like vertebrae.

My Darling Sara

Written By: Shane Koyczan

My Darling Sara

The failing use of my right hand
isn’t actually the failing use of my right hand
it’s just another way to tell the time
and I’m ticking
so I’ve been picking myself up at bars
with a bottle in each hand
but I never give myself any play
I only make plans with myself for the day after next
but by the time the sun swings back around into position
I forget the context of why I asked myself out
in the first place

did I think I was going to score?

I let a stranger pour me one more
she says
my name is Sara

doesn’t take much more than that
to start a relationship

my darling Sara
cleans rooms for a living
giving her youth and beauty
to dirt and dust
understands more than most
that family must be a foot you put forward first
you must weather the worst together
but having never met her family
she places love above all else

then protests that I use the word love
too freely in poems
and I should really just say what I mean

and I suppose what I mean most is that
I’m trying

she’s been buying me time
on a maxed-out credit card
arms scarred from selling her own blood
to pay down the debt
tells me she doesn’t mind going broke
just so long as I can give her a little sweat
she says

so I do my best impression
of a pen
and when every problem looks like a page
I commit ink to paper
the worth of the words that come out
determines my wage
I’ve been making enough
to pay her the compliment
of not quitting
of not sitting
when standing is required
she only asks that I put the effort in
and in return she’s willing
to pin a paper heart to her chest
then do her best impression
of a target

Sara tells me that effort
is the Siamese twin of success
so when everyone else looks like a wrong answer
she says she’ll settle for being my best guess

so we lie in bed like a mess
that someone’s been meaning to clean
for the large part
of a long while
we lie there like a pile of dirty laundry
and how we’ll ever come clean
is beyond me
so we don’t

she says
it’s supposed to be dirty
if by the end you haven’t hurt me
then you didn’t try

so I do my best impression
of a surgeon
cutting purple hearts out of my own
use my veins like thread
then have hurt sewn to our skin like medals
because when the bleeding stops
and that dust settles
all we have are our wounds
to wear like decorations
upon our chests

Sara does her best impression of a war
tells me not to count my pride among the casualties

because maybe faith means never keeping score
she says there’s more to effort than just switching gears
and in terms of what one should give in this life
sweat holds more value than tears

you have to try
and even though
the failing use of my right hand
means I’ll never land a knockout punch
in the first round
life is composed of sound and fury
whatever noise is left in me
will be twice as loud when I try
so I plug myself into the idea of going the distance
and I amplify

Sara has a throat like a vase
she sings her words into bloom
has a voice like perfume
it’s been sticking to my clothes
so everyone knows where I’ve been sleeping

she’s been keeping me so close
you could use my body for evidence
pull her fingerprints as proof
that she’s been on top so often
she’s starting to look like my roof

but a real sexy roof
and she doesn’t leak

unless you count the crying

she does that sometimes
worries that she’s just a back-up plan
but I’ve lived long enough to learn
too many options can kill a man
I will make no exodus
I’ll be around long enough
to watch uncertainty bid us farewell
then echo our names into the crater
caused by the impact
of when our lack of conviction fell

you’ve never had to sell me on the idea
of absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of another
the first and only time you met my mother
mom said
“I like the way she looks at you”
and I echoed back to her
that I liked it too

eyes like recycle-bin blue
Sara looks at broken things
as if she can make them new
more than a few times I’ve caught her staring
caught her wearing
a smile reserved for those busy making plans

Sara believes that distance is a fundamental
that can be side-stepped by a piece of string
and two tin cans

and I remember when my tin can rang

they said
there’s no family to speak of
so love is next in line
and there’s not a lot of time but
she’s asking for her boyfriend

in the cab to the hospital I feel my heart bend
as if bracing for impact
so I do my best impression of a man
and face fact

it’s supposed to hurt

a doctor does his best impression of the truth
and spares me his attempts to skirt around the issue

they can’t stop the bleeding

and the failing use of Sara’s heart
isn’t actually
the failing use of Sara’s heart
it’s just another way to tell the time
and she’s ticking

my darling Sara
I was

The Ultimate Love Poem

Written By: Shane Koyczan

The Ultimate Love Poem

If I were a cow
en route to the slaughterhouse
I would try to kiss you
one last time
before my lips were mulched for wieners.


* Visiting Hours, House of Parlance Media, Inc. 2005 (3rd printing, 2007). Note this is Shane's first book of poems.
* Pretty Good Cape in My Closet. CD with the Short Story Long. 2007.
* Crickets Have Arthritis. CD. 2006.
* American Pie Chart. CD. 2005.