Page 3 Profile: Neil Hilborn, Poet


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The Independent Online

Slam poetry? It’s hardly Wordsworth.

Well maybe. But it’s breathing much-needed life (and street cred) into the verse form. First created in Chicago in the early 1980s, Slams have spread all over the world and are even now held in Nepal. The latest darling of the Slam scene is Minnesota-born Hilborn, who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His poem OCD, penned in 2011, has gone viral after being shared on Reddit, the entertainment website, on Monday.

Poet goes viral, hold the front page.

The video of Hilborn’s two-and-a-half minute recital at the Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in June has touched a nerve. He tells how his OCD-induced worries are stilled when he meets a beautiful girl that he falls in love with.

Ah bless, he is a romantic. Is there a happy ending?

Nope. At first, she warms to his struggle with the illness. Sadly, in the end, she leaves him because his OCD apparently takes up too much time. He closes with: “I want her back so badly, I leave the door unlocked. I leave the lights on.” The audience gasps. It’s a real tear-jerker.

A proper bard then?

He graduated in 2011 with an honours degree in Creative Writing from Macalester College in the US. The Macalester Poetry Slam team which he was a part of came first in a national competition. He’s since co-founded a literary magazine and runs poetry workshops in colleges and high schools.

Did he survive heartbreak?

In an impromptu Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, previously done by everyone from Danny Boyle to President Obama, he reassured his fans that although his muse “did come back...and then left, and then came back, and then left again”, he’s in a good place now.

Love conquers all.

Apparently. “I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, but I know that I am not the only person to have tics dissolve because of love, I have in fact found love since then,” he told the Q&A. Someone pass me a tissue.