Today, when current events seem determined to drive us apart, we need groundbreaking thinkers to bring us together. Come connect with Canada’s most provocative —and positive — writers.

April 16-23, 2018 - PAST EVENTS

Apr 16, 2018 @ 7pm: Kate Harris

“Ever wondered what it’s like to sneak across Tibet with your best childhood pal in the guise of androgynous Chinese cyclists? To test the limits of sanity, friendship, and nations while pedaling for ten months through ten countries, several with names ending in ‘stan’? To set off for Mars, determined to be a modern-day explorer, and end up—marvellous error!—on a bicycle on the Silk Road instead?” — Kate Harris

Award-winning nature and travel writer Kate Harris presents Lands of Lost Borders, an exuberant account of her journey by bicycle along the fabled Silk Road. Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Harris celebrates our connection as humans to the natural world, and ultimately to each other. This event includes an on-stage interview, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

About Kate Harris

Kate Harris is a writer and adventurer with a knack for getting lost. Named one of Canada’s top modern-day explorers, her award-winning nature and travel writing has featured in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic Travel, Sidetracked and The Georgia Review, and cited in Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. She has degrees in science from MIT and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the history of science from Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes scholar. When she isn’t away on expeditions, or reporting on UN environmental negotiations for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Harris lives off-grid in a log cabin on the border of the Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska. Visit kateharris.ca

Lands of Lost Borders

_ “Lands of Lost Borders carried me up into a state of openness and excitement I haven’t felt for years. It’s a modern classic.” — Pico Iyer_

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved — that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician, with a flair for basic science and endless slogging–had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth. So she looked beyond this planet, vowing to become a scientist and go to Mars.

Well along this path, Harris set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule. This trip was just a simulacrum of exploration, she thought, not the thing itself — a little adventure to pass the time until she could launch for outer space. But somewhere in between sneaking illegally across Tibet, studying the history of science and exploration at Oxford, and staring down a microscope for a doctorate at MIT, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks, leaving footprints on another planet: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And where she’d felt that most intensely was on a bicycle, on a bygone trading route. So Harris quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Yule, this time determined to bike it from beginning to end.

Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer, Kate Harris offers a travel account at once exuberant and meditative, wry and rapturous, and above all full of hope. Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of the self that, like our planet, can never be fully mapped. Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders celebrates our connection as humans to the natural world, and ultimately to each other — a belonging that transcends any fences or stories that may divide us.

Apr 17, 2018 @ 7pm: Marcello Di Cintio

Marcello Di Cintio presents Pay No Heed to the Rockets, a political-literary travelogue that tells a fresh story about Palestine — one that begins with art rather than war. Hosted by Omar Mouallem, this event includes a reading and an on-stage interview, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

About Marcello Di Cintio

Marcello Di Cintio is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, winner of the 2013 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. Di Cintio’s essays have been published in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, the International New York Times, Condé Nast Traveller, and Afar. He lives in Calgary.

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense

Marcello Di Cintio first visited Palestine in 1999. Like most outsiders, the Palestinian narrative that he knew had been simplified by a seemingly unending struggle, a near-Sisyphean curse of stories of oppression, exile, and occupation told over and over again.

In Pay No Heed to the Rockets, he reveals a more complex story, the Palestinian experience as seen through the lens of authors, books, and literature. Using the form of a political literary travelogue, he explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a rich imaginative life and the daily tedium and violence of survival.

Di Cintio begins his journey on the Allenby Bridge that links Jordan to Palestine. He visits the towns and villages of the West Bank, passes into Jerusalem, and then travels through Israel before crossing into Gaza. En route, he meets with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers. He begins to see Palestine through their eyes, through the stories of their stories.

In the company of literary giants like Mahmoud Darwish and Ghassan Kanafani and the contemporary authors whom they continue to inspire, Di Cintio travels through the rich heritage of Palestine. It’s there that he uncovers a humanity, and a beauty, often unnoticed by news media. At the seventieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War, Pay No Heed to the Rockets tells a fresh story about Palestine, one that begins with art rather than war.

Apr 18, 2018 @ 7pm: Poetry Cabaret

Featuring Rayanne Haines, Emma Healey, David Martin & Arleen Paré.

Wordfest and the League of Canadian Poets present evocative poetry by four kick-ass visionaries whose words will compel you to rethink art, truth, hydrocarbons, and history. This event features poetic performances, followed by a book signing.

Rayanne Haines is the executive director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Edmonton Poet Laureate and a Mayors Award for Arts Management. As an award-winning performance poet and speaker, Rayanne is increasingly in demand for various reading series, conferences, and festivals. She has been published in anthologies, magazines, and online. Her poetry has been used as the text for the National Youth Choir of Canada, as well as recorded for a United Kingdom, talking newspaper for the Blind. She’s had work published in Canada, the USA, and the UK. Stained with the Colours of Sunday Morning is her first full-length poetry collection.

Emma Healey’s first book of poems, Begin with the End in Mind, was published by ARP Books in 2012. Her poems and essays have been featured in places like the Los Angeles Review of Books, the FADER, the Hairpin, Real Life, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, The Walrus, Toronto Life, and Canadian Art. She was poetry critic at the Globe and Mail (2014–2016) and is a regular contributor to the music blog Said the Gramophone. She was the recipient of the Irving Layton Award for Creative Writing in both 2010 and 2013, a National Magazine Award nominee in 2015, and a finalist for the K.M. Hunter award in 2016.

David Martin was born and raised in Calgary where he lives with his wife and children. His poetry has been awarded the CBC Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the Vallum Award for Poetry and PRISM international’s poetry contest, and published in many journals and magazines across Canada. He is an instructor at The Reading Foundation, one of the organizers for Calgary’s Single Onion poetry reading series, and the frontman for an indie-pop group, The Fragments. His debut book, Tar Swan, is a part of the Crow Said Poetry series.

Arleen Paré’s first book, Paper Trail, was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Award for Poetry and won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2008. Leaving Now, a mixed-genre novel released in 2012, was highlighted on All Lit Up. Lake of Two Mountains, her third book, won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Poetry, was nominated for the Butler Book Prize and won the CBC Bookie Award. Paré’s poetry collection, He leaves His Face in the Funeral Car, was a 2015 Victoria Butler Book Prize finalist. She lives in Victoria with her partner of thirty-seven years.

Apr 19, 2018 @ 7pm: Jamil Jivani

The day after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, twenty-eight-year-old Canadian Jamil Jivani opened the newspaper to find that the men responsible were familiar to him. He didn’t know them, but the communities they grew up in and the challenges they faced mirrored the circumstances of his own life. Jivani travelled to Belgium in February 2016 to better understand the roots of jihadi radicalization. In Why Young Men, Jamal Jivani presents a brilliant, moving examination of how and why young men are influenced and what we can do about it. Hosted by Zain Velji, this event includes an on-stage conversation with Jivani, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

About Jamil Jivani

Jamil Jivani was born and raised in and around Toronto. He is a visiting professor at Yale University and was a visiting professor at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School, where he focused on issues affecting youth, immigrants and low-income families. He founded the Citizen Empowerment Project, an organization leading initiatives related to policing, racial profiling, democratic participation and economic development. Jivani attended Yale Law School and served as president of the Yale Black Law Students Association. He has worked for a US senator, as a high school teacher in the US and Kenya and as a corporate lawyer in Manhattan. Since graduating he has practised corporate law in Toronto, acted as a management consultant, and was named the 2015 Young Lawyer of the Year by the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers. Twitter: @jamiljivani.

Why Young Men: Rage, Race and the Crisis of Identity

The day after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, twenty- eight-year-old Canadian Jamil Jivani opened the newspaper to find that the men responsible were familiar to him. He didn’t know them, but the communities they grew up in and the challenges they faced mirrored the circumstances of his own life. Jivani travelled to Belgium in February 2016 to better understand the roots of jihadi radicalization. Less than two months later, Brussels fell victim to a terrorist attack carried out by young men who lived in the same neighbourhood as him.

Jivani was raised in a mostly immigrant community in Toronto that faced significant problems with integration. Having grown up with a largely absent father, he knows what it is to watch a man’s future influenced by gangster culture or radical ideologies associated with Islam. Jivani found himself at a crossroads: he could follow the kind of life we hear about too often in the media, or he could choose a safe, prosperous future. He opted for the latter, attending Yale and becoming a lawyer, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and a powerful speaker for the disenfranchised.

Why Young Men is a book of ideas that pursues a positive path and offers a counterintuitive, often provocative argument for a sea change in the way we look at young men, and for how they see themselves.

About your host Zain Velji

During the 2017 Calgary municipal election, Zain acted as Campaign Manager for the successful Re-elect Nenshi for Mayor Campaign. As VP Strategy for Northweather, Zain brings a decade of experience in political, business, and non-profit communications, as well as marketing and engagement. Zain is also a regular political commentator who appears weekly on CBC radio and television. In addition, Zain serves on the board of the YMCA Calgary, Calgary Reads, and The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper community.


Apr 20, 2018 @ 7pm: Word Play

Word Play takes you behind the scenes in the making of a new Canadian play. Join us for a stage reading of excerpts from five new scripts in development by members of Alberta Theatre Projects’ Playwrights Unit. Plus enjoy a post-show conversation with the playwrights moderated by local playwright and ATP Playwrights Unit Director Meg Braem.

Word Play will feature:

Cowgirl Up! by Anna Chatterton (Hamilton)

WROL: Without Rule of Law by Michaela Jeffery (Calgary)

Un-Dressed by Louise Casemore

The Odd Women of Sunalta by David van Belle & Kris Demeanor

Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers, and Little Brothers by Makambe K. Simamba

Word Play features performances by some of Calgary’s favourite actors including: Kira Bradley, Ellen Close, Braden Griffiths, Michael Tan, Ayla Stephen, Anna Cummer, Louise Casemore and Sarah Wheeldon, with direction and dramaturgy by Laurel Green and Valerie Planche.

Alberta Theatre Projects is a national leader in the creation and development of new Canadian plays, and has been a home to playwrights for 46 years. The ATP Playwrights Unit nurtures artists both locally and nationally, bringing together new perspectives and approaches to creation. To find out more please visit: atplive.com/who-we-are/playwrights-unit/


Apr 23, 2018 @ 7pm: Tima Kurdi (hosted by Amanda Lindhout)

Tima Kurdi presents an intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi — the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees — and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Hosted by Amanda Lindhout, coauthor of A House in the Sky, this event includes an on-stage interview, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

About Tima Kurdi

Tima Kurdi is an internationally recognized spokesperson who has partnered with governments, businesses, and citizens worldwide to help raise awareness about the global refugee crisis. She, along with her brother Abdullah, is the co-founder of the Kurdi Foundation. Tima lives with her husband and son in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Visit her at kurdifoundation.com or follow her on Twitter @TimaKurdi.

About The Boy on the Beach

Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the political became personal, as the world awoke to the reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. But Tima did not need a photo to understand the truth; she and her family had already been living it.

In The Boy on the Beach, Tima recounts her idyllic childhood in Syria, where she grew up with her brother Abdullah and other siblings in a tight‑knit family. A strong‑willed, independent woman, Tima studied to be a hairdresser and had dreams of seeing the world. At twenty‑two, she emigrated to Canada, but much of her family remained in Damascus. Life as a single mother and immigrant in a new country wasn’t always easy, and Tima recounts with heart‑wrenching honesty the anguish of being torn between a new home and the world she’d left behind.

As Tima struggled to adapt to life in a new land, war overtook her homeland. Caught in the crosshairs of civil war, her family risked everything and fled their homes. Tima worked tirelessly to help them find safety, but their journey was far from easy. Although thwarted by politics, hounded by violence, and separated by vast distances, the Kurdis encountered setbacks at every turn, they never gave up hope. And when tragedy struck, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared but that allowed her to give voice to those who didn’t have an opportunity to speak for themselves.

From the jasmine‑scented neighbourhoods of Damascus before the war to the streets of Aleppo during it, to the refugee camps of Europe and the leafy suburbs of Vancouver, The Boy on the Beach is one family’s story of love, loss, and the persistent search for safe harbour in a devastating time of war.

About Host Amanda Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout is a sought-after inspirational speaker and New York Times bestselling author of A House in the Sky. She has been featured in Vogue, New York Times Magazine, Dateline, and The Globe and Mail. She has travelled to nearly 90 countries and is now living in Calgary. A House in the Sky is being developed into a Hollywood motion picture by heavyweight production company Annapurna, with two-time Oscar-nominated actress Rooney Mara playing Amanda.


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