Penticton poet Shane Koyczan will perform in front of a hometown crowd Nov. 4 at the Cleland Community Theatre. Kaare Iverson Photography

Koyczan eager to be in front of hometown crowd

Shane Koyczan, world renowned poet and spoken word artist, returns to Penticton

He’s performed all over the world for crowds ranging from audiences of millions right down to groups of 10 or less, but there’s something different about being in front of his hometown crowd.

Shane Koyczan, world renowned poet and spoken word artist, will get to sleep in his own bed for a night when his current tour makes a stop in Penticton Nov. 4 at the Cleland Community Theatre.

“I’m trying to give them the same experience as I give the rest of the world,” the proud Pentictonite said. “It does feel different. I think part of that is Penticton really is home base for the creative side of what I do.”

The artist and writer is at the forefront of today’s spoken word arts movement and is well-known for speaking out against bullying and celebrating tolerance through his poetry, which is rooted in his own personal experiences.

“People see the finished product. It’s a strange thing, me on stage telling things about myself. I’m telling very personal stories, and when you do that, you’re giving people the keys to your vulnerability. When you do that in front of people you know or interact with there’s an added level to that. You put it in the hands of hope.”

Related: Penticton artists to honour Cohen’s legacy

Although he’s seen great success in his career on the world stage including the influential anti-bullying, To This Day Project video that went viral with over 14 million views in 2013 and performing for millions during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Koyczan said he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“There’s no pension for poetry. No unemployment insurance, no dental or medical. Just because you achieve some success doesn’t mean you always will. Sometimes I wake up and think, “am I really doing poetry as a career.”

Related: Penticton poet goes viral with To This Day

In addition to the tour that sees him perform across B.C. and Ontario this fall, Koyczan is involved in several other projects.

Earlier this month the documentary Shut Up and Say Something debuted at the Vancouver Film Festival.

The documentary was shot over several years and includes footage of his Olympic performance and him working on a piece commissioned by the Vancouver Opera.

The film contrasts those highs with Koyczan’s journey to reunite with his father who he had not spoken to since he was a child.

“It was a giant experience for me. That was shot over four years. There was thousands of hours of footage and it was distilled into 90-minutes. It was a very jarring experience,” he said.

Koyczan gave credit to the producers of the film for their tremendous work, but also to his dad.

“I give him a lot of credit. To let us track him down and stick a camera in his face it took a lot of bravery on his part for sure,” he said.

Tight-lipped about his new project this winter, Koyczan only dropped hints that it would take place in Penticton and be made into a web series.

“I wrote a web series called Literally. I can tell you it’s going to be filmed at the used bookstore downtown,” he said. “We’re going to release it online, but I’m not sure when. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”

In the meantime local fans will have to satisfy their Koyczan poetry cravings with the live performance Nov. 4 at Cleland Community Theatre.

Tickets are available at the Recreation Centre at 325 Power St. or by phone at 250-490-2426, ext. 6.

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