Famous spoken word artist takes the mic

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Shane Koyczan, a Canadian-born poet, songwriter and storyteller, has come to Alaska on tour. He is most widely known for his YouTube video "To this day," used in many anti-bullying campaigns across the nation. Photo courtesy of Fairbanks Concert Association.

Shane Koyczan, a YouTube sensation and spoken word poet, is making an appearance in Fairbanks to give a unique vocal performance.

“I want something that will bring you to your feet and it’s going to make you go ‘oh my god,’” said Anne Biberman, the executive director of the Fairbanks Concert Association as she leapt to her feet from behind her desk, arms raised and her hands waving in the air. “And it’s going to make the people around you feel the same way, which is going to bond you and it’s going to bond everyone who’s there seeing and hearing him because that’s what a great artist can do.”

Koyczan, 40, is described as a multiplatform “spoken word virtuoso” because he performs spoken word, a form of slam poetry, and has written 6 books. One of his works has been adapted to an opera and he is an active producer of Youtube videos with over 320,000 subscribers and over 20 million views on one video alone titled, “To this day.” A starting point for his rise to fame was when he performed at the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver winter Olympics in 2010 as well as his creation of a Ted talk for his piece, “To this day.”

Koyczan is known for using personal experiences to convey messages about bullying, cancer, death and disorders. His work has led him to receive a BC Civil Liberties Award for the Arts.

Biberman’s first encounter with Koyczan was at a conference where he was the first speaker. By the end of his speech the entire house was screaming for more and she realized that she wanted the Fairbanks community to be able to experience that level of emotional evocation.

“What I loved was how extraordinarily he used words, you don’t get to hear something like that everyday,” said Biberman.

UAF and high school students are receiving $10 discounted tickets because Biberman feels that students do not see live performances enough and are missing potentially meaningful experiences.

“It’s not always happy thoughts, it’s not necessarily joyful. There’s a lot of joy in what he does, but I wouldn’t say it is like Disney,” Biberman said.

Koyczan will perform on April 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hering Auditorium. The Fairbanks Concert Association has reduced the price of tickets which can range from $10-$40. Students only have to pay $10. Tickets can be purchased online on the Fairbanks Concert Association’s website or at the door of the Hering Auditorium.

“I think it’ll be a meaningful experience,” Biberman said. “If you’re studying writing and its something you’re working at, to hear someone who’s that good at it will be inspirational.”

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