Star Scene: Neil Hilborn

Neil Hilborn‘s scene is one of longing and belonging. The poet, who has gone viral with his posts about mental illness, states: “My scene, I think its weird, I’ve always felt like I’ve tried to be part of scenes but I’ve felt like I’m a couple of steps removed from them, like I always went to punk and hard rock shows when I was a kid, but felt disconnected from all the punk kids, there was something I liked about them and wanted to be like them but never felt like them. I’m in the poetry scene but at the same time I feel a lot of distance from poetry at the same time. A lot of poets, I talk to them and there is this feeling that there is this block between us. I don’t know man, I’m trying to punk rock, I’m trying to be a poet, but its hard to fell like you belong.”

Hilborn’s disconnectedness is personal yet universal. He has been credited with bringing poetry into the mainstream yet he is humble in his response: “It feels a little weird, well partially because I think that Spoken Word as a genre was really ready to explode, I think that I happened to be there at the right time with the right poem, if it wasn’t me it would have been somebody else, because, especially at that time, there were so many people in the poetry community writing very intentionally and honestly about mental health. These were all thoughts that were running around in the scene at the time, and I just got lucky. I wouldn’t credit me necessarily, yeah I wrote a poem and it worked. I think it is a good poem, but I think that I have to put a lot more credit on this Spoken Word and to all the people I leaned stuff from and the people on the internet, YouTube and everybody that shared it. There are so many other things involved, so I have trouble crediting myself with that.”

Hilborn “just got home” from “doing a tour of the West Coast in America. Los Angeles San Francisco, Portland and Seattle”. Now he heads to Australia for the first time for three shows only, extending it from two when his Melbourne gig sold out. Hilborn enjoys touring. He states: “You know I like it a lot, I, it’s never a job I thought I would have, it’s sort of still a surprise to me every time I like, people actually buy tickets to come out and see me do shows. But it’s really cool, when i was growing up, especially when I was a teenager I was always going to punk shows and I sort of dreamed about being in a band and going on tour, but I have zero musical talent. I’m so bad it’s really horrendous. So, it’s kind of cool, it feels cool to me now to be out there sort of living up that band dream although it’s much diffferent, I think, because I tour by myself I think it is a very different experience. But still I kind of get of those vicarious twinges.”

Hilborn grew up going to see “a lot of punk shows”, his favourite being The Gaslight Anthem, and laughingly states: “now I’m kind of like old and my back hurts”. Hilborn also loves The Mountain Goats though he “sort of like resisted liking them for the longest time, cause [he was] too punk rock or whatever”. He continues: “Tthe first time I actually sat down and listened to his lyrics, it was like ‘Oh! Ok this is brilliant’, this is changing my whole life, and that is fine.”

Hilborn performing journey may not have taken the punk rock, or indie, route but it did maneuver an uneven course. He explains: “I wrote my first poem when I was about 8 years old I think. My mom always read poetry to me, as like bedtime stories. I really like Shakespeare a whole bunch because I was a pretentious baby. It was always like a genre I was interested in and I was writing since I was a little kid and I started performing when I was about 19. It was my sophomore year in college and now one of my friends, at the time I had no idea who he was, Dylan Gerede showed up to one of my meetings with my literary magazine, with a spoken word poem he wanted to workshop. I’m like what’s this I have never heard of the genre before and he stood up and did the poem, it was very bad, it was a very terrible poem. We were all bad back then. But really despite the quality, he really meant it, he was so genuine and sincere about his piece, and so he peaked my interest. So he took me to some poetry slams around Minneapolis and St Paul where we lived and we started to slam at our college and now it’s almost 10 years later and it’s my full time job.”

NEIL HILBORN is single-handedly bringing Poetry to the mainstream.

The Viral poet has garnered critical acclaim with over 60 million views of his internationally successful poems including ‘OCD’, ‘Joey’, ‘The Future’ and author of Amazon bestseller ‘Our Numbered Days’.

NEIL HILBORN is a poet of the people: his work is accessible, honest, and he has undoubtedly left a deep impact in the history of contemporary poetry.

For the first time ever Australian fans will get their chance to witness NEIL HILBORN live this December and to say he is excited about the tour is an understatement. “How incredible is it that I’ve wanted to see Australia for so long, and now I get to travel there and perform my work. Life is pretty cool sometimes. I’ve wanted to hug a wombat since I was eight years old, and now it’s going to happen. Oh and I guess I’ll perform some poems too. If you had asked me five years ago if I thought poetry would bring me to Australia, I’d have said there’s no way. Now here we are, and here I go.”

Destroy All Lines, Chugg Entertainment and TKO proudly present: NEIL HILBORN

NEIL HILBORN tickets go on sale now


Thursday 7 December – The Zoo, Brisbane – 18+

Friday 8 December, Bald Faced Stag – Sydney – 18+

Saturday 9 December – Howler, Melbourne – 18+

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.