Reading in the Wild Sparks Magic!

He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two.” –Victor Hugo

Calgary is in its element. The plants are budding, birds are singing, and readers are out and about with their books, which Stephen King describes as “a uniquely portable magic.”

We want to celebrate all of you who read in the wild, whether in a park, coffee shop, restaurant, LRT, or bus stop. We want to help you inspire others turn off their phones and return to the simpler pleasures of an engrossing adventure between the covers.

We’ve commissioned award-winning portrait photographer Jeremy Fokkens to search the city for elusive readers in their natural habitats. By letting us showcase what you’re reading, you can help awaken the joy of submerging onself in a good book in other Calgarians. It’s your curiousity we want to know more about, even if you don’t feel comfortable showing your faces, although Jeremy really is the best at drawing out your best self. You may have seen New York City’s Dogist on Instagram. Think of Jeremy as Calgary’s Readerist!

The photos will appear here and on Wordfest’s Instagram. In return, we’d love to offer you two tickets to an upcoming show (subject to ticket availability) so that you can meet the authors behind the most engrossing reads.

And please join us for Calgary’s First Outdoor Read-A-Thon at Central Memorial Park on Tuesday, June 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. More info here. 

Jeremy Fokkens is a Calgary-based portrait and advertising photographer. His work has been published by The Washington Post, The Walrus, Macleans, NPR, and more. His client list includes the Bank of Canada, Etsy, Visa, Toyota, and others. Jeremy started his career as a professional dancer and developed his creative practice to focus on storytelling through portrait photography. His first book, The Human Connection (Rocky Mountain Books), featured encounters in Bangladesh and Nepal in 2011. Since 2014, Jeremy has been crossing Canada for a project called Back To The Land, photographing and interviewing people from small towns and remote areas across all ten provinces and three territories, telling the stories of everyday Canadians. 

Visit his website and Instagram.

If you enjoy everything Wordfest does to help connect audiences of all ages to the world’s best authors, please consider donating to our Legacy Fund.

Contributions go toward an unrestricted reserve that can be accessed to continue to innovate and design programs for long-term sustainability, as well as provide free tickets to those unable to access our programming. You will also be fuelling our Wordfest Youth Program, which focuses on teen literacy in Grades 7 to 12 to spark the next generation of engaged Calgarians and avid readers. Your generosity connects Calgary students at no charge with the world’s most inspiring authors – such as Sarah Polley, Cherie Dimaline, Yann Martel, Cadence Weapon, David A. Robertson, and Tegan & Sara – including purchasing much-needed sets of books for classrooms. Learn more here. 

If you are inspired to make a multi-year pledge to the Legacy Fund, please contact Everett Wilson, Wordfest’s Director of Development and Audience Engagement, at