Viral Slam Poet Neil Hilborn to Perform at IWU

Feb. 9, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— College National Poetry Slam champion Neil Hilborn will perform a handful of his poems at Illinois Wesleyan University on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 E Beecher St., Bloomington). This event is free and open to the public.

Much of Hilborn’s poetry tackles how to live with mental illness, and his words have connected with a substantial audience. Collectively, his videos have gained over 150 million views, making him the most-viewed slam poet on the Internet. His most widely-known poem, “OCD,” in which the speaker diagnosed with OCD passionately shares his feelings for the girl he loves, has garnered 13 million views alone. In “OCD” and several of his other poems, Hilborn draws from some personal experiences with managing his OCD, diagnosed in early childhood, and bipolar disorder, diagnosed in college. In an interview with Independent, Hilborn discusses how he sees poetry as a valuable means of catharsis and therapy. 

Hilborn attended Macalester College and co-coached the school’s poetry slam team, which was named first in the nation at the 2011 College National Poetry Slam during his senior year. Since graduating with honors from Macalester with a Creative Writing degree, Hilborn has become a best-selling author with his poetry collection “Our Numbered Days.” He has toured in 40 states and eight countries across the world, from England to Australia.

Hilborn comes to IWU at the invitation of Lyrical Graffiti, a Registered Student Organization that, in addition to bringing professional creative writers to campus to present their work, gives student writers a space to recite and perform their original pieces of music, poetry and spoken word. 

In addition to Hilborn, this event will also bring together poetry performers from IWU, Heartland Community College, Illinois State University and the wider Bloomington-Normal community.


Rachel McCarthy ’21