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Neil Hilborn performs poetry and inspires crowd

Neil Hilborn with the students of SPC (photo/SPC Facebook)

On October 6, National Poetry Slam champion, Neil Hilborn, performed at Ohio Northern. The event was held by The Student Planning Committee in The Bear Cave at 8 p.m.

Hilborn’s self-deprecating humor made the crowd laugh as he recited some of his poems. Hilborn joked about states like Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio for being terrible. The audience loved the jokes, as many in the audience murmured their agreement about the states. 

During the show, Hilborn spoke from his published book Our Numbered Days. Published on April 1, 2015, the book received excellent reviews on sites like Goodreads. The book landed four and a half stars out of five and even temporarily sold out on Amazon.

Along with the success with his book, Hilborn has had over 12 million views online with his poem “The Future” which went viral on Facebook. However, before that he reached 11 million views on YouTube with his poem “OCD.” The video was made in 2013 and remains the most watched slam poem on YouTube. The success has not gone to the poet’s head. As the show went on, he talks to audience members and even said goodbye to a student who had to leave early. After one of his poems, he thanked the audience for being attentive and listening as he “worked through” his emotions on stage.

Hilborn had the crowd entranced as he performed humorous poems as well as serious poems with controversial subjects.

As someone with Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, many of Hilborn’s poems revolve around the topic of mental health. While some may have issues with humor involving these issues, Hilborn managed to portray his poems of comedy in an elegant way that was not offensive. Senior Art student Kacey Kauffman thought positively of the performance.

I really enjoyed his set. I’ve been pretty inspired by him and poets like him for a while who can talk about hard and sometimes controversial topics. I think he seems very down to earth. I would love to go see him perform again, and I can’t wait to read his book. I look forward to seeing what else he does,” Kauffman said.

President of SPC, Rachel Doty, was honored to have the poet she's watched for years perform at ONU.

I thought it was a fantastic performance. I’ve been watching Neil since I was 14, so for seven years now. Being able to bring him here was great. He did perform some poems I’ve never heard before, a lot of them aren’t all on the internet of course. So being able to hear those was pretty neat,” Doty said.

While Hilborn gave inspiration to students in the audience, students were able to return the favor at the end of the performance. Students were able to buy the poet’s book or a poster and get them signed by Hilborn himself. Many praised the poet and even gave him hugs as he warmly greeted them.

Hilborn will continue touring and inspiring people as he goes with his dry wit and spoken words.

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