Standing strong: Shane Koyczan
In February 2013, B.C. spoken word artist Shane Koyczan posted an animated video of his anti-bullying poem “To This Day” on YouTube. Within 48 hours the video had gone viral, attracting more than 1.4 million hits (it now has more than 12 million). Koyczan’s message had struck a nerve. The poem, previously published in Koyczan’s 2012 collection Our Deathbeds Will Be Thirsty (McKellar & Martin Publishing), was inspired by the author’s experiences as a child, and conveys anger, confusion, desperation, and, ultimately, hope and defiance.
In August, Annick Press will release To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful ($19.95) as an illustrated hardcover. As with the YouTube video, the book will feature illustrations from international artists, including 18 Canadians. The varying approaches – from the moody, stylized sketches of Gillian Newland to the colourful, psychedelic images of Rick Sealock to the retro, H.A. Rey–like illustrations of Kyle Metcalf – perfectly capture the sense of diversity celebrated by Koyczan’s words. For those who have felt the shame, fear, and bitterness of being bullied, the book will serve as a lifeline – a reminder that, eventually, it gets better.