Award-winning poet Shane Koyczan will visit Knox United Church this June for his first public show in Parksville.
Koyczan is touring B.C. and Alberta this spring — his first performances since the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. He will bring his blend of humour and often dark subject matter.
“I use humour to engage with a lot of heavy topics. I talk about a lot of things that are going on in my life,” Koyczan said. “The last two years have been fairly isolating and depressing at times and so, as much as I engage with the sort of darker emotional aspects of our lives, I use humour to sort of deal with those aspects of my life as well.”
He said he finds inspiration in anything from social justice, mental health and love, to a spider that lived in his house during the pandemic, which inspired a series of poems about his arachnid roommate.
There is always trepidation before going on stage, he said, because sharing poems based on very personal experiences requires vulnerability. Koyczan joked about how often he will yawn a lot backstage before a performance and passersby will think he is cool, calm and collected, “but really what’s happening is I’m forgetting how to breathe and then having to take large pants.”
His first writing experience was journaling, a suggestion from his grandmother when he was young and sad about not having friends to talk with. Koyczan’s grandmother handed him a notepad and said: “You can talk to that, you can tell it anything. It’s not going to judge you based on what you look like or what kind of clothes you wear or any of those things.”
He later took those thoughts and placed them in structures when he began to learn about poetry and short stories.
Koyczan was born in Yellowknife, grew up in Penticton with his grandparents and was educated at Okanagan College.
He will perform at 7:30 p.m. on June 5. The event is a fundraiser for the Ali Refugee Sponsorship Group, which is hoping to reunite a Syrian family, currently in Lebanon, with a brother already living in Parksville for five years.