Healing rhymes: Hilborn's spoken word poetry on mental illness a hit

Neil Hilborn Photo: YouTube More than 13 million people have watched Neil Hilborn’s poem OCD, in which he lays bare the reality of being in a relationship while coping with mental illness, his face turning red as he speaks. It’s safe to assume that his stark take on how his mental health can encroach into every aspect of a person’s life struck a chord with a few people. The 27-year-old from Houston, Texas, was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as a child, and then with bipolar in college and has used poetry as an outlet. Now, he’s one of the most-watched spoken word poets in the world, having recently completed a tour of the UK including at the prestigious Union Chapel in north London. To mark World Mental Health Day yesterday, we spoke to Hilborn about how poetry is therapeutic, his artistic process, and why he thinks OCD is such a popular poem. You read a poem publicly for the first time when you were 19. Do you remember how that felt? Were you nervous? Was it cathartic? To be honest, I don’t remember much about that first performance. We had just started a poetry slam at our […]

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