SAC hosts poet Neil Hilbourn

By: Max Bruns ~Staff Writers~

The Student Activities Council (SAC) hosted Neil Hilborn, a poet famous for a viral poem called “OCD,” on Oct. 20 in the Gallagher Student Center (GSC).

There were 104 students in attendance at the event, which had a similar format to a slam poetry competition, though the performers were not scored by audience members.

Hilborn invited students to come up and recite original works, and a total of 15 students got up on stage and read.

“It takes a lot of guts to come up here and say your own poems like that,” Hilborn said, applauding as the first student took the stage.

He continued that applause for every performer and was very energetic about the performance.
“There’s no other art form that asks you to so deeply think about your feelings and then condense them. It’s that emphasis on precision and conciseness that I love about poetry, and I’m excited by others wanting to share in the art,” Hilborn said in an interview after the show.

SAC board members Leo Biette and Briana Cloney, who organized the event, were very happy about having Neil at Xavier. “(SAC) chose Hilborn to come and perform over the summer. He stood out to us because we wanted an act that was a little less mainstream and more interactive; the student performance added to the show,” Cloney said.

This is not the first time Xavier has hosted a spoken word performance event. A poet named Asia came to Xavier last year and will be returning in November.

“Events like this are great because of the audience reactions. The number doesn’t matter. If five people walk away touched by the performance, feeling true enjoyment or fulfillment, we’ve done our job,” Biette said, when asked about hosting poets at Xavier.

The “off-beat” and “unique nature” of the event was a central focus for the council.
“We wanted to cater to a different group of students than normal. Not everyone likes poetry, but we wanted to consider the ones who do,” Cloney said.

Hilborn won the National Poetry Slam competition and has been performing for years. He graduated from Macalester College in 2011 with a degree in creative writing.

He now works full-time as a poet and spoken word artist, thanks to the takeoff of “OCD.”
“I got lucky and got an agent who allowed me to make this a full-time career. I’m so lucky; there are just so many people who are better than I am who deserve the career, so I give thanks every day for the opportunity,” Hilborn said.

To listen to some of Neil’s poems, visit Asia will be on campus on Nov. 17 in the GSC Theatre.