“Em is a powerhouse on many fronts.”
-Danielle K.L. Gregoire
“The respect and dignity with which she treats all artists (and aspiring artists),
and the fact that she is so humble despite possessing an enormous and truly amazing talent
make her a phenomenal ambassador of the spoken word art form.”
- Sarah Bingham
“Em has an amazing way with people.
She is never afraid to push those around her to go further, reach higher, do better.”
- Geoffrey Winter
“She’s pensive and disarmingly serene, but when Em Kwissa takes the stage at a poetry slam,
she can throw down words like a ninja throws stars spitting fury
as she rails about everything from love lost to the fires of family conflict.
Her words can also be inspirational and uplifting – that is the power of her voice.”
- Mark Calder
Em Kwissa is one of Canada’s most unique literary talents. She is a founding member of the Lanark County Live Poets Society, Canada’s first rural spoken word collective and a beacon of diversity on the national poetry scene. At the age of fifteen, Em represented Lanark County at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, becoming the first minor to compete nationally. She has competed in a total of three festivals, including Victoria 2010, where her poem Love Letter to the Human Race was awarded a place in the finals night showcase. She has shared stages with such illustrious voices as C.R. Avery, The Fugitives, Shane Koyczan, and The Mighty Mike McGee.
Em’s ambassadorial capacities span beyond the competitive scene. She is passionate about youth involvement in the arts and believes in teaching young people how to express themselves and value words and communication. Her extremely successful school workshops result in students not only writing their own work, but presenting it with pride and confidence before their peers. Em has been involved in the UCDSB Champions for Kids Foundation, which has used her story of perseverance through hardship at various fundraising functions.
Em is also a passionate advocate against domestic and dating violence, and has consistently lent her voice to the cause. She has been a keynote speaker at youth events, protests, and meetings with legislative assemblies. Her eloquent and impassioned performances about serious issues have not only raised awareness about child abuse, women’s rights issues and more – her commanding stage presence and stunning poetry have also motivated countless youth and adults alike to speak up and make change.
Em is a student of philosophy currently living in Hamilton, Ontario. She can be seen in Ottawa this August, where she will be featuring as a Poet of Honour at Canada’s first national youth slam.
The Lanark County Live Poets Society (LiPS)
Em’s interest in spoken word began with Canada’s first rural slam poetry collective, the Lanark County Live Poets Society. Em was present for the birth of the scene and represented the collective at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word on three consecutive teams from 2009 – 2011. At the age of sixteen she became the group’s first slammaster, and is to this day a valued consulting member of the collective.
Solo Spoken Word
As an unaffiliated artist, Em has appeared at many events, both youth- and adult-oriented. She has been a featured artist at both the Toronto and Guelph Youth Poetry Slams, as well as at Ottawa’s female-only poetry show Voices of Venus. In 2010, Em featured in the spoken word showcase at Westfest, Westboro Village’s Festival of Music, Art & Life. She has opened for C.R. Avery, The Fugitives, Shane Koyczan, and The Mighty Mike McGee. In August of 2013, Em will be a Poet of Honour at YouthCanSlam, Canada’s first national youth slam in Ottawa. (For more information on YouthCanSlam, visit www.ycs2013.com.)
Em’s work has also been known to remain on the page. Her poetry is published in the anthologies The Song of the Heart and Eternal Portraits, and she has had short stories published in anthologies by the Poetry Institute of Canada. Over the course of her institutional education, she has garnered numerous awards for creative writing. She wrote her first novel at the age of fourteen and has been independently producing works of both fiction and non-fiction ever since.
Em’s school workshop format is tailored to reach students in both middle and high school. These highly successful workshops endeavour to promote awareness of spoken and written word, to educate about the value of communication, and to push students to take command of their self-expression. Each workshop aims to be in tune with the goals of the educator, while at the same time offering students alternative methods of bringing their own unique presence into the classroom. Please see the “Media” page for a PDF of Em’s workshop package.
Em has been a keynote speaker at Interval House’s Where Is The Love? initiative, a summit aiming to engage youth to raise awareness about dating violence, gender equality, and healthy relationships. She has also been a feature performer at Take Back the Night events, and at protests and presentations at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
Love Letter to the Human Race
Ottawa Tonite Interview
I’m Just Saying... CD Streaming
Thought You Should Know
A Glass Mansion
Lover Letter to the Human Race
I'm Just Saying
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