Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan will perform at the Sid Williams Theatre on Tuesday

Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan will perform at the Sid Williams Theatre on Tuesday

Shane Koyczan: Emotions in motion

March 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre

Mark Allan

Special to the Record

Shane Koyczan plans to get emotional March 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre.

He would like you to join him.

The acclaimed Canadian spoken-word artist says he wants to get an emotional reaction from audiences.

“If you’re having an emotional day at work and you’re crying at work, they’ll send you home, ’cause the world doesn’t want you to be emotional. But we’re emotional creatures.

“When I do my shows, the whole goal is to remind people, ‘It’s OK to feel what you’re feeling.’ It’s important that you do. It means absolutely no good to bottle it up all those years.”

He describes his writing and performances as “a large part of my own personal therapy to talk about these things.”

Asked what a Comox Valley audience can expect from the second stop on a national tour, Koyczan replies that he doesn’t like to do that.

In fact, he can’t because he prefers spontaneity.

“I like to keep it fresh for myself as well, right? I never really know what I’m going to do. Like any show I do, I can promise there’ll be a range of emotions.”

He says it’s a more honest show if he doesn’t commit to a set list a month ahead.

“You’re then able to decide, ‘You know what? I’m feeling this piece tonight or I’m feeling that piece,’ and just be in the moment.”

Audience reaction plays a big role.

“A show can change within a performance. It can feel like, ‘They’re not really feeling this kind of stuff. I’ll try something else.’”

Twenty scheduled performances that end Aug. 14 at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival with Koyczan’s band Short Story Long in Lyons, Colo., begin this Saturday in Nelson. Courtenay is the second stop.

What’s the good, bad and ugly about being on the road?

“The good is, I love what I do. I absolutely love it.”

The bad? Being lonely on the road.

“You go, you do your show, you’ve got 400 or 500 people in the audience and sometimes even more.

“You go from that to an empty hotel room. It can be pretty isolating.”

Koyczan, bullied as a youth, admits he suffers from depression, which can amplify loneliness.

“You’ve got to be careful with yourself on the road. It can be easy to slip into that (depression). I have to have time for myself but also be around people so I don’t feel so isolated.”

The ugly? Travelling.

“I used to love to travel. It’s a lot of hurry up and wait these days with airlines, buses … that can be really tiring.

“You’re putting a lot of yourself out there; it can be really exhausting, and then you have to travel and do it all over again the next day.”

Since first achieving recognition in 2005 with Visiting Hours, his first full-length collection of poetry, Koyczan’s career highlights have ranged from being the MC at the first Cumberland festival to performing in Vancouver during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

How does he connect with people?

“It really comes down to honesty and being open about my life. ‘Here’s what I went through. It might not be what you went through but you probably experienced something along these lines.’

“I think everybody’s been depressed at some point in their lives. Everybody’s been bullied at one point in their lives. It’s just human experience.”

For more about Shane Koyczan, visit shanekoyczan.com.

He performs March 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay at 7:30 p.m. For details and tickets, visit  sidwilliamstheatere.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay.

Opening act

The Comox Valley’s first designated poet laureate will open for Shane Koyczan on March 24 at the Sid Williams Theatre.

The poet laureate, chosen from a current search,  will also receive a $1,000 honorarium to perform duties during a two-year term.

The Comox Valley Community Arts Council will announce the first local poet laureate March 23.