Canadian poet delights fans
Orpheus Theatre plays host to spoken word artist
Many Canadians wouldn’t recognize the name Shane Koyczan, but it’s likely many more would recognize his face. The poet from the Northwest Territories had his face broadcast across the nation during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, when he read his own piece, “We Are More.”
The poem had already been released as a tribute to the country years ago by the Canadian Tourism Commission, as part of Canada Day in 2007. Coming to Calgary on March 28, he and his touring band, The Short Story Long, filled SAIT’s Orpheus Theatre with his poetry and music, and his humour. While he couldn’t “believe (the audience) fucking paid for this shit,” he gave his all to win over the crowd, and his effort paid off.
Between his poems, he’d tease friends and the audience and gave out his dinner as prizes for his first ever Twitter awards. With two shorter sets filling up the evening, he did his best to convey as much as possible with the time he had. Recalling a lot of stories with his grandparents and friends, many of the poems and jokes stemmed from relationships that just didn’t quite work out. Perhaps the most intimate was his goodbye to a good friend who passed away, which was specific enough to serve as a memorial while still being open enough to hit home with the entire audience. Between that and his recollection of his late grandfather, he juxtaposed himself well with tales of the first two girls he ever kissed, who tasted like tomatoes and pepper, respectively.
While The Short Story Long did a great job of backing him up, it was bassist Stefan Bienz who would steal the show at times. Bienz is the newest member of the group, as the band was originally only a touring trio. All original members were on stage, consisting of guitarist Maiya Robbie, keyboardist Olivia Mennell as well as Koyczan himself. Despite all the solid work they put in behind Koyczan, with both original music and covers backing his poems, The Short Story Long never seemed to overstep Koyczan, and with good reason.
With the stories being told, it was clear to all what the main focus of the travelling group was, and the dynamic between Koyczan and his backing band worked perfectly for what it was. Despite not playing their more popular songs, the audience was clearly in the mood for whatever was going to give and graciously accepted what was packed into the two set. Koyczan, in return, very nearly stayed past his SAIT-imposed curfew. The group will be coming close by on their return trip, and it’s well worth taking the road trip to Canmore. The show itself is a must-see for any fan of poetry, and easily provides a great night out for anyone with an appreciation of the English language.