Slam poet Neil Hilborn never imagined one of his performances would go viral, and sometimes, he still can’t really believe that it did. Nor can he get over what it led to.
"I have Imposter Syndrome about all of this," says Hilborn. "I never planned it and I'm still in awe."
Hilborn, who lives with mental illness, recorded a spoken word piece, "OCD," in 2013 and it received more than 75 million views online. In the poem, he expresses the beauty and heartbreak of finding someone who loved him – including his mental illness – but then fell out of love just as easily.
For the past few years, Hilborn has performed at primarily poetry festivals and college campuses, but recently switched to music venues. He will take the stage in Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 30 at Turner Hall Ballroom. Show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available here.
Currently on his "Endless Bummer" tour, Hilborn performs spoken word monologues about mental illness, but also pieces that focus on other topics. Although he prefers not to be pigeonholed as a "mentally ill writer and performer," he also understands the content of his poems speaks to many who became fans because they have a mental illness – or care about someone who does.
"I try to talk about mental health in a lyrical and approachable way. And in a way that can be totally understood in three minutes," says Hilborn.
Hilborn was born in Houston, Texas and graduated with honors from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While a student, he joined the school’s spoken word team and nabbed first place in the National College Poetry Slam. He was also a part of the Minneapolis Adult National Slam Poetry team, which placed fifth out of 80 competitors in the 2011 national competition.
Hilborn says memorizing his work is one of his largest professional struggles. But he’s also found a solution.
"My auditory memory is garbage. I need a visual image to remember something. So after I write a poem, I print it out and read it over and over until I have a literal image of the poem on paper in my mind. I then read the poem from the image in my brain," says Hilborn.
Hilborn says writing and performing poetry has helped him process and accept challenging aspects of his life. He considers poetry a form of therapy.
"It’s been an excellent method of desensitization therapy for me. I’m confronting my fears every night and nothing bad is happening. Instead, I’m getting paid for it," says Hilborn.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.