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“To this day”: Poet talks about his viral animated anti-bullying video [+video]

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(Read caption) Called Pork Chop by bullies, Shane Koyczan's spoken word piece 'To This Day' was illustrated and put to music as part of a project to confront bullying.
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When our child is bullied we hope our love and platitudes will heal a wounded spirit. Shane Koyczan’s spoken-word poem, “To this day,” just released as a gripping anti-bullying video, instantly cured me of repeating the mother’s mantra - “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” – because it’s a lie we must stop telling our kids.

“To this day” does something no other attempt to end bullying has ever done, like the classic “A Christmas Carol,” it takes us on a journey of past and present to show us what may haunt our children from the classrooms and other bullying grounds into adulthood.

The old rhyme “Sticks and stones” is the underpinning the poet methodically, almost hypnotically, deconstructs for us throughout the work in the hope we realize that ugly names may affect us in a more painful way.

 In a phone interview from his home in British Columbia, Canada, Mr. Koyczan, author of the “Stick Boy,” an intense novel – about a bullied kid who becomes a bully – talked about “To this day” which was released as part of Canada’s anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 27).

 Yes, he was the child bullies cruelly named “Pork Chop,” abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandmother. The poem was written from life experiences of the poet and others he knows, with poetic license taken only to soften some of the horrors, not inflate them.

“My hope is [that the video]  would reach some of the people who were just out there looking for something to get them through another day,” he explains. “When I wrote the poem two years ago and people started coming to me because they just needed to talk after hearing it, I realized this is not a Canadian problem or an American problem, it’s everywhere.”

After watching the poem, I started thinking about my 17-year-old son, who recently told me, “I only hate four people in this world.” Not being a fan of hate, I asked him to explain. He “hates” with an active passion the one who bullied his girlfriend, another who bullied him, and the witnesses who failed to help either of them.

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