On this hot summer day, Nasra Adem gazes out at the 600 demonstrators packed against a precautionary police line at the steps of the Alberta Legislature, and puts her body where her poetry is. Wearing a traditional orange-and-green African dress that hangs past her ankles, and a matching headdress that temporarily tames the frizz of her thick black hair, she looks out from the podium into the faces of the crowd, and finds sympathetic eyes staring back.
This August rally has formed under an “End Racism in Canada” banner. It is, in part, a reaction to the alt-right extremists who had marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., two weeks before, and, in part, a denunciation of the myth that racism doesn’t exist in Edmonton. Adem leaped – as she often does – at the chance to present her work for an important cause. Not necessarily as 2017’s Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate, but as an affected voice trying to change the world for the better.
Some days, she changes the young, urging them to embrace love and question what they see. Some nights, she changes the old, chipping away at their hardened views from a place of vulnerability. And sometimes, she is blocked by a seething lie that has poked at the Canadian psyche as long as she can remember. Read more