• Image
    The Way We Connect

The Way We Connect

@ - MT
DJD Dance Centre, 111 12 Ave SE, Calgary
@ - MT
In Person Mar 3 at 7pm Way We Connect
$15.00 + GST
This product is out of stock

Admission to LIVE IN-PERSON event at DJD Dance Centre, 111 12 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0Z9.

Wordfest is showcasing six of Calgary's most captivating authors, as well as one brave Edmontonian, in an evening focused on the power of connection: with stories, with books, with each other, with all that we've desperately missed over the past two years. Sponsored by RISE UP Calgary, we invite you to revel in powerful open-mic style performances by Ali Bryan, Bertrand Bickersteth, Will Ferguson, Larissa Lai, Omar Mouallem, George Webber, and Teresa Wong.

The 90-minute show, presented at DJD Dance Centre, starts at 7 p.m. Support Owl's Nest Books on site or bring pre-purchased books for authors to sign after the show. Tickets are $15, plus GST.

We are grateful to Arsenal Pulp Press, Dottir Press, NeWest Press, Rocky Mountain Books, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Turnstone Press for helping us showcase these spectacular Alberta authors.

Our Collective Safety & Comfort 

To provide a community-first return to live programming for patrons, authors, Wordfest staff, volunteers and the venue staff, we will be temporarily extending the mandatory mask and vaccination policy for this show. 

  • All attendees are required to show proof of vaccination (2 doses) via scanned QR code upon check-in at the main entry (on 12th Avenue S.W.).
  • Masks are required upon entering the DJD Dance Centre and must be worn at all times when not consuming beverages.
  • Bar Service will be available on the main floor pre- and post-show. No beverages will be allowed on the second floor lobby or in the theatre. 
  • Theatre seating capacity will be reduced to 70%.
  • Masks are required in the post-show signing lines on the main floor. 
  • We will also offer “London Book Service” as an alternative to the post-event book signing* (patrons can pre-purchase books through Owl’s Nest in advance or at the door and authors will sign these copies prior to the event, allowing pre-purchased copies to be picked up before and after the show from a table separate from the book signing line)
The Hill book cover

About Ali Bryan

Ali Bryan is the author of three novels: the Georges Bugnet Award winner Roost, The Figgs, and The Hill. Her nonfiction has been shortlisted for the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize and longlisted for the CBC Creative Non-Fiction Prize and the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. She is a 2018 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Emerging Artist recipient and a 2021 Airdrie Reads Contender. Bryan lives with her family in Calgary, where she divides her time between writing and mastering the flying armbar. 

About The Hill

Set in a dark near-future where overconsumption and the climate crisis have come to a chaotic head, Ali Bryan’s young adult novel The Hill tells the story of Wren, the newly chosen leader of a secret clan of girls taught to survive by their own wits. Their home? A reclaimed garbage dump in the middle of the ocean called the Hill. Their bible? The Manual, which tells the girls everything they need to know about the world or so they think. The gospel? Men and boys are dangerous. 

When Wren makes the fateful decision to leave the Hill in search of a missing girl, she encounters boys for the first time in her life. What’s worse, they’ve been living on the other side of the island this whole time. Forced to question everything she’s ever been taught, Wren must sort fact from fiction, ally from enemy, and opportunity from threat in order to survive and lead the girls to safety even if safety is an illusion.  

The Hill explores gender, power, and access to truth in a world defined by scarcity and distrust and the consequences of consumerism and environmental neglect, while reminding us just what it takes to be a girl in this world.

The Response of Weeds book cover

About Bertrand Bickersteth

Born in Sierra Leone, Bertrand Bickersteth grew up in Edmonton, Calgary, and Olds. Although he writes in several genres, anticlimactically, the topic is always the same: what does it mean to be black and from the prairies? He has also given many public talks including a TED Talk for BowValleyCollegeTEDx called The Weight of Words. His poetry has appeared in several publications, including The Antigonish Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Fieldstone Review. He has also been published in The Great Black North and the anthology The Black Prairie Archives . In 2018, he was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. He lives in Calgary, teaches at Olds College, and writes everywhere.

About The Response of Weeds

Bertrand Bickersteth’s debut poetry collection explores what it means to be Black and Albertan through a variety of prisms: historical, biographical, and essentially, geographical. The Response of Weeds offers a much-needed window on often overlooked contributions to the province’s character and provides personal perspectives on the question of Black identity on the prairies. Through these rousing and evocative poems, Bickersteth uses language to call up the contours of the land itself, land that is at once mesmerizing as it is dismissively effacing. Such is Black identity here on this paradoxical land, too. Named a 2020 CBC Poetry Book of the Year, The Response of Weeds won the 2021 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award from the League of Canadian Poets; the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry; and the 2021 High Plains Book Award for First Book.

The Finder book cover

About Will Ferguson

Will Ferguson is the author of five novels, including 419, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. A three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, he has been nominated for both a Commonwealth Prize and an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His most recent novels, The Finder and The Shoe on the Roof, were instant national bestsellers. Ferguson lives in Calgary. Visit him at WillFerguson.ca.

About The Finder

The world is filled with wonders, lost objects – all real – all still out there, waiting to be found:

· the missing Fabergé eggs of the Romanov dynasty, worth millions
· the last reel of Alfred Hitchcock’s first film
· Buddy Holly’s iconic glasses
· Muhammad Ali’s Olympic gold medal

How can such cherished objects simply vanish? Where are they hiding? And who on earth might be compelled to uncover them? Will Ferguson takes readers on a heroic, imaginative journey across continents, from the seas of southern Japan, to the arid Australian Outback, to the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, after the earthquake. Prepare to meet Gaddy Rhodes, a brittle Interpol agent obsessed with tracking “The Finder” 
a shadowy figure she believes is collecting lost objects; Thomas Rafferty, a burnt-out travel writer whose path crosses that of The Finder, to devastating effect; and Tamsin Greene, a swaggering war photographer who is hiding secrets of her own.

The Finder is a beguiling and wildly original tale about the people, places, and things that are lost and found in our world. Both an epic literary adventure and an escape into a darkly thrilling world of deceit and its rewards, this novel asks: How far would you be willing to go to recover the things you’ve left behind?

Iron Goddess of Mercy book cover

About Larissa Lai

Larissa Lai is the author of three novels – The Tiger Flu (Lambda Literary Award winner), Salt Fish Girl, and When Fox is a Thousand – and three poetry books – Sybil Unrest (with Rita Wong), Automaton Biographies (shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), and Iron Goddess of Mercy. She is also the winner of Lambda Literary's Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize, and an Astraea Award. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary where she directs The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing.

About Iron Goddess of Mercy

Iron Goddess of Mercy is a long poem that captures the vengeful yet hopeful movement of the Furies mid-whirl and dance with them through the horror of the long now. Inspired by the tumultuous history of Hong Kong, from the Japanese and British occupations to the ongoing pro-democracy protests, the poem interrogates the complicated notion of identity, offering a prism through which the term “Asian” can be understood to make sense of a complex set of relations. The self crystallizes in moments of solidity, only to dissolve and whirl away again. The poet is a windsock, catching all the affect that blows at her and ballooning to fullness, only to empty again when the wind changes direction. Iron Goddess of Mercy is a game of mah jong played deep into the night, an endless gamble. Presented in sixty-four fragments to honour the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching, Iron Goddess of Mercy also borrows from haibun, a traditional Japanese form of travel writing in which each diary entry closes with a haiku. The poem dizzies, turns on itself. It rants, it curses, it writes love letters, but as the Iron Goddess is ever changing, so is the object of her address: a maenad, Kool-Aid, Chiang Kai-shek, the economy, a clown, freedom of speech, a brother, a bother, a typist, a monster, a machine, Iris Chang, Hannah Arendt, the Greek warrior Achilles, or a deer caught in the headlights.

Finally, a balm to the poem's devastating passion and fury, Iron Goddess of Mercy is also a type of oolong tea, a most fragrant infusion said to have been a gift from the compassionate bodhisattva Guan Yin.

Summoning the ghosts of history and politics, Iron Goddess of Mercy explores the complexities of identity through the lens of rage and empowerment.

Praying to the West book cover

About Omar Mouallem

Omar Mouallem is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His journalism has appeared in The GuardianThe New YorkerRolling Stone, Maclean’s, WIRED, and more. He coauthored the national bestseller Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray and codirected Digging in the Dirt, a documentary about mental health in the Alberta oil patch. In 2020, he founded Pandemic University School of Writing. He lives in Edmonton, with his family. Follow him on Twitter @OmarMouallem and find him at OmarMouallem.com.

About Praying to the West

In Praying to the West, acclaimed journalist Omar Mouallem explores the unknown history of Islam across the Americas, traveling to thirteen unique mosques in search of an answer to how this religion has survived and thrived so far from the place of its origin. From California to Quebec, Brazil to Canada’s icy north, he meets the members of fascinating communities, all of whom provide different perspectives on what it means to be Muslim. Along this journey he comes to understand that Islam has played a fascinating role in how the Americas were shaped – from industrialization to the changing winds of politics. And he also discovers that there may be a place for Islam in his own life, particularly as a father, even if he will never be a true believer.

Original, insightful, and beautifully told, Praying to the West reveals a secret history of home and the struggle for belonging taking place in towns and cities across the Americas and points to a better, more inclusive future for everyone.

Borrowed Time book cover

About George Webber

George Webber is a renowned documentary photographer whose previous collections with Rocky Mountain Books include an illustrated edition of Robert Kroetsch's classic novel BadlandsPrairie Gothic (with Aritha van Herk), Last Call (with Karen Connelly), Alberta Book (with Fred Stenson), and Saskatchewan Book (with Lorna Crozier). He is the recipient of numerous National Magazine Awards (Canada), two Awards of Excellence from the Society for News Design (USA), and an International Documentary Photography Award (Korea). His images have been featured in American Photo, Canadian Geographic, Lenswork Quarterly, Photolife, The New York Times, and Swerve. In 1999 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in recognition of his contributions to the visual arts in Canada. Webber lives in Calgary.

About Borrowed Time: Calgary 1976-2019

An intriguing exhibition of documentary photography and micro-essays highlighting the growth and evolution of one of Canada’s most interesting, and complicated, cities.

Shortly after completing university and starting work in 1975, a young George Webber borrowed a camera and took a stroll in downtown Calgary. From that point on, he discovered how his affection for the city could be transformed and harnessed through photography.

For 45 years now, Webber has documented the theatre of the street: people playing, arguing, flirting, celebrating, regretting, eating, praying, and hugging. Through his sensitive and masterful lens, he has thoughtfully preserved images of men and women, wrestlers, businessmen, cowboys, waitresses, truckers, street performers, priests, and night clerks. Set against ephemeral backdrops of newspaper boxes, gas stations, trailer parks, billboards, hand-painted signs, abandoned streets, motels, bulletin boards, and pawn shops, Webber’s latest portfolio preserves much of Calgary’s recent past and immediate present through a colourful kaleidoscope of intimate glimpses that will endure for decades to come. With an introduction by Will Ferguson.

Dear Scarlett

About Teresa Wong

Teresa Wong is the author of the graphic memoir Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, which was longlisted for CBC Canada Reads and short-listed for the 2020 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. Her comics have appeared in The Believer, The Rumpus, and Event Magazine. She teaches memoir and comics at Gotham Writers Workshop. Wong is the 2021-22 Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary. She lives in Calgary with her family.

About Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression

In this intimate and moving graphic memoir, Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter Scarlet. Equal parts heartbreaking and funny, Dear Scarlet perfectly captures the quiet desperation of those suffering from PPD and the profound feelings of inadequacy and loss. As Wong grapples with her fears and anxieties and grasps at potential remedies, coping mechanisms, and her mother's Chinese elixirs, we come to understand one woman's battle against the cruel dynamics of postpartum depression.

Dear Scarlet is a poignant and deeply personal journey through the complexities of new motherhood, offering hope to those affected by PPD, as well as reassurance that they are not alone.

About Host Shelley Youngblut

Shelley Youngblut is the CEO & Creative Ringleader of Wordfest. She was the recipient of the 2020 Calgary Award for Community Achievement in the Arts and the 2018 Rozsa Award for Arts Leadership. She also won the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Western Magazine Awards. Youngblut was the founding editor of Calgary’s award-winning Swerve magazine and has created magazines for ESPN, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Nickelodeon, Western Living, and The Globe and Mail. A former pop-culture correspondent for ABC World News Now and Canada Am, she is now often unconventionally opinionated on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener.

Follow her on Twitter @youngblut and Instagram @youngblutshelley.

You may also like