Shane Koyczan, The Disappearing Poet

Shane Koyczan is the bane of my existence. He’s a poet with no talent who gets paid to write garbage and no one seems to bat an eye. Here’s one of his “poems”:

6:59 AM

I’ve been told
that people in the army
do more by 7:00 am
than I do
in an entire day

but if I wake
at 6:59 am
and turn to you
to trace the outline of your lips
with mine
I will have done enough
and killed no one
in the process.

This poem is shit. For one thing, it’s awfully prosaic. Second, it’s manipulative: someone might (mistakenly) call this atrocity a good poem because of the anti-war sentiment, uttered tritely, at the poem’s end. Koyczan could have actually improved the poem had he just snipped the last two lines (though it would have been more beneficial had he scrapped the whole thing.) But the obvious is often lost on terrible writers. Here, have another:


If I knew what I know now then
way back when we first met
I’d point to the sunset and say

I drew that for you


it’s wrinkling in the rain.

In the words of Mr. Plinkett: “It’s good to show contempt for your audience.” Virtually every line is a cliche, an achievement in of itself. Also impressive is the fact that people gave this guy ninety-thousand dollars to publish his book of poetry, A Bruise on Light (even his titles suck!)

As a bonus, here’s an awful video he released a few months back for his poem, “Troll” which is about cyberbullying. I have to admit, I’ve never been able to sit through the entire video; I challenge you to make it past the forty second mark.

However, it’s not so much the fact that Koyczan is terrible that is bothersome (for there are countless poets like him), but the fact that he is quite successful while other, much better poets, dwell and die in obscurity. There are several reasons for his being successful: 1.) his poetry is “inspiring” because it deals with issues like bullying in a “positive” (read: obvious) way 2.) his poetry is relatable and easily understood 3.) his poetry is also easy to replicate; literally anyone can write like Koyczan; this fact makes the reader feel better about being mediocre himself (this also explains the success of poets like Bukowski) 4.) Koyczan has a decent voice and stage presence 5.) he has a pretty intense neckbeard.

Despite all this, I’m an optimist. Poets like Koyczan come and go while truly great poets, even if they aren’t appreciated in their time, always remain for they are not easily replaced. The only reason people still know of terrible poets like Bukowski is because of the images that surround them and what those images represent. But celebrity fades and Koyczan’s certainly will; other Koyczans will come and fill his gap and do so well enough to satisfy the public.

8 thoughts on “Shane Koyczan, The Disappearing Poet

      • I have just realised that with my comparassion, I have soiled fast food!
        All my bad metaphors aside, I am always in doubt : should I praise the hardcore lovers of poetry of this kind because they are reading and loving something, or encourage them to move beyond?
        And the thing with funding that annoys me, the social card playing. I would never want people to fund my book because I am easy to understand, am emulating trends and similar. I would like them to do so because they wanna keep my poetry in print (well,not even then, to be honest, if I can pay monthly for internet, I can afford to publish myself.) This concept baffles me deeply.

  1. It’s okay for people to like shit, just as long as they acknowledge that it’s shit (someone can like Arby’s more than something gourmet, but understand the superiority of the gourmet meal) I’m more bemoaning the fact that great writers are sometimes overshadowed by untalented dolts. One can still support their favorite shitty artist, but good writers should be given their due as well, but they often don’t because they often don’t fit a particular image or write about things others agree with, things unrelated to art which is, in the end, what matters most.

  2. There is nothing admirable in the mere fact that somebody is reading *something*. When Harry Potter was mega-popular, people said that it was getting a generation of kids interested in reading, but subsequent inquiries into the matter suggested that their interest did not extend beyond that rather light, mediocre series. Perhaps,in some cases, they’d read other young adult shit, but most never developed any real literary or artistic curiosity, at least not as a result of Harry Potter.. Reading good stuff is good for sharpening the mind, but reading fluffy, poorly-wrought stuff is innocuous at best, mind-liquefying and culturally corrosive at worst.

    • That reminds me of my own experiences with poetry. When I was a freshman in high school they tried getting us into poetry through writers like Spike Milligan, Billy Collins and Maya Angelou because they were easy and didn’t require much, or any, cogitation. I remember reading a poem by Collins and thinking, “this is it?” and as a result, was turned-off by poetry for a number of years. It wasn’t until after high school that I happened to stumble upon Wallace Stevens. But I don’t think it’s bad for someone to read and like Billy Collins or Shane Koyczan, what is bad is when that person thinks those two are the best poetry has to offer and there’s nothing else greater out there. However, I think that is the story for most people and it could have easily have been mine for I discovered Wallace Stevens mostly by chance, without the direction of any educator, not from reading fluff like Spike Milligan.

  3. “but if I wake
    at 6:59 am
    and turn to you
    to trace the outline of your lips
    with mine
    I will have done enough
    and killed no one
    in the process…”

    This is just hilarious.

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