Wednesday, July 16, 2014

say how you feel

-post by Emma Rooney
I was first introduced to Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, along with a worldwide audience, via the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. On the sham show stage that is the opening ceremonies, it took a slam poet to speak truth to the spectacle, raising a different patriotic flag with We Are More, an anthem the seemingly unpatriotic can stand for.

Of course Shane has continued to transform common feelings into spectacular poetry, broadcasting a forgotten medium into renewed relevance. For the rare disease community, his poem, Instructions For a Bad Day, I suspect will touch an open ear. His response to the sick person's most dreaded question (how are you?) is an endorsement to "be loud and make noise." He beacons:
"Be forthright. Despite your instinct to say 'it's alright, I'm okay' - be honest. Say how you feel without fear or guilt, without remorse or complexity." 

What other invitation do we need to tell our stories, in spite of the days when it's easier to provide the expected, "I'm fine"?

You can visit Shane's website for further instruction, including his medicine, "If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces." You will also find another video version of Instructions For a Bad Day, made by high school students, and Shane talking about this and other life giving projects. 


  1. A thoughtful and poignant post as usual, Emma!

    It's a good lesson for all of us: nothing good comes of staying silent and trying to spare other people's feelings by not saying how we really feel. Say it loud and proud. It will help other people grow (or not).

    I notice in intimate group settings that people will often say "you feel" instead of "I feel". I wonder whether that's a consequence of not wanting to feel the vulnerability of saying "I feel".

  2. Oh my gosh, Shane Koyczan. What a gift his words and voice are.