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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

keep exploring... we are more

It's Winter Olympics time and I have to admit that I'm mesmerized by one sport in particular: Curling. A sport believed to date back to the 16th century, curling entails gliding large, polished granite "stones" across ice hand-groomed by athletes wielding brooms and hi-tech pads.

I don't know why; it's really not all that exciting. I guess, in part, it's because it's the ONLY game in the Olympics I can see myself doing and not slamming to the earth and breaking bones.

Speaking of slamming (how's this for a segue). How about the Vancouver Poetry Slam and Shane Koyczan.

Who is Shane Koyczan? I have no idea.

All I know is that he's been getting a lot of press for his part of the opening ceremony of this year's Winter Games.

So, without further adieu, I present We Are More by Shane Koyczan
Canadian poet Shane Koyczan performs during the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 12, 2010. Photograph by: Jerry Lampen , REUTERS

When defining Canada

you might list some statistics

you might mention our tallest building

or biggest lake

you might shake a tree in the fall

and call a red leaf Canada

you might rattle off some celebrities

might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie

might even mention the fact that we've got a few

Barenaked Ladies

or that we made these crazy things

like zippers

electric cars

and washing machines

when defining Canada

it seems the world's anthem has been

"been there done that"

and maybe that's where we used to be at

it's true

we've done and we've been

we've seen

all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine

and turned into theme parks

but when defining Canada

don't forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories

about the one that got away

we do more than sit around and say "eh?"

and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One

who inspired little number nines

and little number ninety-nines

but we're more than just hockey and fishing lines

off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes

and some say what defines us

is something as simple as please and thank you

and as for you're welcome

well we say that too

but we are more

than genteel or civilized

we are an idea in the process

of being realized

we are young

we are cultures strung together

then woven into a tapestry

and the design

is what makes us more

than the sum total of our history

we are an experiment going right for a change

with influences that range from a to zed

and yes we say zed instead of zee

we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy

we dream so big that there are those

who would call our ambition an industry

because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow

we do more than grow wheat and brew beer

we are vineyards of good year after good year

we reforest what we clear

because we believe in generations beyond our own

knowing now that so many of us

have grown past what used to be

we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have

when they say things like "someday"

someday we'll be great

someday we'll be this

or that

someday we'll be at a point

when someday was yesterday

and all of our aspirations will pay the way

for those who on that day

look towards tomorrow

and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set

and we will get interest on our inspiration

because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks

more than backpacks and hiking trails

we are hammers and nails building bridges

towards those who are willing to walk across

we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss

we are not the see-through gloss or glamour

of those who clamour for the failings of others

we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers

uncles and nephews aunts and nieces

we are cousins

we are found missing puzzle pieces

we are families with room at the table for newcomers

we are more than summers and winters

more than on and off seasons

we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay

because we are more than what we say or do

we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are

we are students

students who study the studiousness of studying

so we know what as well as why

we don't have all the answers

but we try

and the effort is what makes us more

we don't all know what it is in life we're looking for

so keep exploring

go far and wide

or go inside but go deep

go deep

as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss

and suddenly there was this location scout

trying to figure some way out

to get inside you

because you've been through hell and high water

and you went deep

keep exploring

because we are more

than a laundry list of things to do and places to see

we are more than hills to ski

or countryside ponds to skate

we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can't wait

we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes

a country that is all the ways you choose to live

a land that can give you variety

because we are choices

we are millions upon millions of voices shouting

"keep exploring... we are more"

we are the surprise the world has in store for you

it's true

Canada is the "what" in "what's new?"

so don't say "been there done that"

unless you've sat on the sidewalk

while chalk artists draw still lifes

on the concrete of a kid in the street

beatboxing to Neil Young for fun

don't say you've been there done that

unless you've been here doing it

let this country be your first-aid kit

for all the times you get sick of the same old same old

let us be the story told to your friends

and when that story ends

leave chapters for the next time you'll come back

next time pack for all the things

you didn't pack for the first time

but don't let your luggage define your travels

each life unravels differently

and experiences are what make up

the colours of our tapestry

we are the true north

strong and free

and what's more

is that we didn't just say it

we made it be.

-Shane Koyczan

And if you want to hear/see one of Shane's awesome slam poems:

Sir Bowie "pushing out of the hacks to start his day" of Greenbriar


  1. wow! how did I miss this guy?

    I will print this to read and re-read

    maybe a new life motto or two or three?

    definitely presents a different view of Canada than I have in my memories - yes, fishing
    and Expo '68 -
    and more fishing and bears, oh my

    thank you bringing this one up!

    off to hit print key...

  2. SIDEBAR: Spirit of Curling

    It is traditional for the winning Curling team to buy the losing team a drink after the game.

    So, we Knights put together a team, head to the next Olympics, get our butts kicked by (well, basically all of the other teams because we really won't know what we're doing),and then enjoy DRINKS ON THE WINNING TEAM!

    Sir Bowie "I'll have mine on the rocks" of Greenbriar

  3. Good one. I missed the opening ceremony.
    I enjoy the Slam poetry evenings that they have throughout the city here, most notably the Hammer and Tongue nights.

    We also love our Curling here, and am watching GB vs Sweden, in their Knockout game, as I write.
    Always amusing to see that both guys and gals teams are made up of Scots. Its mainly cos Aberdeen and that area is the home of Granite and ice..... so they pretty much have a monopoly on the two essentials for the sport.

    Sir d of O

  4. I thought Curling was something Lady A did to her hair with an iron? Rocks on Ice, sounds like the perfect excuse to drink! I like you're idea Sir Bowie. A KMSA Curling Team...and not necessarily arms curls with a pint glass. I'm sure we would win a lot of free drinks!

    Love the poetry. I missed the opening ceremony. Thanks for sharing. Bur you know, when it comes to Canada, I've been there done that. Well, I haven't been to BC yet, looks nice. Toronto, Montreal, Quebec and Niagra Falls have all seen Sir Hook chasing his MooseHead!

    SIr Hook Who Enjoys Putting the "What" in What's New of Warrick