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”:
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
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.