Review of 'The Future' by Neil Hilborn

You may or may not recognize the name Neil Hilborn, but you have most likely seen one of his poetry videos passed around on social media. Neil Hilborn is a poet who does many spoken word videos, and according to the “About the Author” in his new book, his poems, “OCD” and “The Future” ended up going viral and now have over 125 million combined views, making these some of the most-viewed poems online of all time.  He travels across the country performing his poems, and so far has performed in 39 states. In just 2017, he traveled over 50,000 miles (Hilborn, 75).

"OCD" by Neil Hilborn video

Recently, he released his second full-length collection of poetry, The Future. I had recently just finished his first collection, Our Numbered Days, and since I loved the first book, I obviously had to order the next one.

I’m grateful to say that it did not disappoint.

The tone of this book can initially be seen in the illustrations of the covers and continues to be felt throughout his work. The front cover is a scene of a rural, middle of nowhere desert and a rusty-brown and red snake, with the title and author in black font in the middle of it. This is fitting considering that in the introduction at the front of the book, Hilborn says that he wrote these poems while he was traveling across the country performing. The poems inside attest to that; they read as if they are a road trip journal written in poetic form.  

The back of the cover is a little more light-hearted and less serious than the front cover. On the back, there is a picture of a white wolf howling, and underneath it looks as if they are book reviews. However, they’re something much more intriguing. The first quote says: “I have no idea when he wrote this. He literally spent all day yesterday googling ‘Neil Hilborn Unicorn Fan Fiction.’ -Neil’s Phone.” The second quote reads: “He’s writing something! He’s finally doing it! Wait, Wait… Nope he’s just signing his name again. -Neil’s Notebook.” The third and final quote says, ‘Wheeee I’m a bike! I’m a bike! Wheee!’ -Neil’s Bike.” I absolutely love the juxtaposition between seriousness and joking on these covers, and I think that’s really telling of the poems in this book.

This book contains 71 pages of poetry, but somehow that’s not enough; I finished the book wanting to read more. From poems about travelling, to love, to mental illness- Hilborn finds ways to draw all different types of people in with his words. He uses ordinary, everyday objects and occurrences in a poetic way to help his audience understand what exactly he’s trying to say. His poetry actually makes you feel something and causes you to think about it for hours afterwards.

Hilborn uses humor as a way to balance out some of the heavy topics that he discusses. For example, in his poem “Me But Happy,” he uses humor and finding beauty in common things to show how much he loves someone. Throughout the whole beginning of the poem, he makes small little jokes as he builds up towards the heavy ending of the poem. Then he ends it with: “Sure, there are probably/ infinite dimensions, but I’m/ with you in this one, so why/ would I try to find them?” (Hilborn, 64). You can watch the video below if you want to hear what I’m talking about.

"Me But Happy" by Neil Hilborn video

I would definitely recommend this book as it is one of my favorites that I have read this year. Hilborn is the perfect example of how poetry doesn’t need to be serious and depressing all the time. It can be funny and serious at the same time, if you know how to do it well.

To conclude, I will leave you with this poem, which the book was titled after. Let me know what you think in the comments!

"The Future" by Neil Hilborn video



Alyssa Harmon



Hilborn, Neil. “The Future.” Minneapolis: Button Poetry, 2017. Print.