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. In August of 2013, she was named Poet of Honour by Canada’s inaugural Youth Can Slam for her contributions to the building of the youth spoken word community.
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.
In July of 2013, Em published a memoir entitled Am I Not, through the vanity press Lulu.com. On August 15th, 2013, the book was removed as a result of a complaint from her abuser, who stated that the entirety of the book was false. The ensuing controversy is detailed here and here, and e-reader versions of the book are available free of charge on the “Media” page of this website. The book has not yet become re-available in print.
Em is an English student at McMaster University.