On Treelessness

Canadian author, Chantal Ringuet, gives a talk at Mengi in Reykjavík on October 23rd. The event starts at 5:30 pm. She is Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature's writer-in-residence from Quebéc City in October. 

Chantal Ringuet is Reykjavik's first invited writer from another UNESCO City of Literature. Residencies and the mobility and cooperation of authors across borders is one of the main focuses of the UNESCO Cities of Literature. It is therefore a great pleasure for Reykjavik to take further part in this cooperation by inviting a writer from one of our sister cities for this free residency. This is done to enhance the relationship between the cities and the creative people that live in them. One author or a translator is invited to stay for one month in Gröndalshús and during the stay, the writer gets a chance to get to know they literary life in the city and to introduce his or her work to the local population as well as to do creative work. 


Over fifty authors from sixteen UNESCO Cities of Literature applied this year, which shows the interest authors have in staying in Reykjavík and being connected to the literary life of Iceland. In the same manner, Icelandic writers are invited to apply for visits to many UNESCO Cities of Literature, such as Granada, Prague, Ulyanovsk, Heidelberg, Ljubljana and Tartu.


On Treelessness - Event in Mengi, Reykjavík

Chantal will talk about the poetry she is working on here in Reykjavík on Wednesday, October 23rd at 5:30. The event is open to all and free of charge. The venue, Mengi, is at Óðinsgata 2 in the city centre. 

When describing this work in progress, Chantal says:

What if the trees were looking at us? How would that modify our vision of the world and of the environment? Can we reinvent the founding narratives of the Western world (such as the Bible and Homerus’ Odyssey) in a twenty-first century treeless landscape?

In this talk, Chantal will present her current project, a poetic odyssey which deals with landscapes threatened or destroyed by war, genocide and disasters. From a post-world war II Europe in ruins to a present-day tormented America, she will stress the powerful relationship between words and images (through Don McCullin’s photographs), while addressing the necessity to give voice to those who are victims – from “minorities” to ordinary people. Nowadays, as we are facing dramatic issues of climate change, this definition must be extended to trees, forests and lakes. Questioning a sense of exile and belonging in our twenty-first century world, this project will explore treelessness as a mode of being that welcomes the sacred as a “secret chord” (Leonard Cohen). As the narrator follows an intimate voice that no longer belongs to a prophet or a saint, she transports readers across wide spans of history, geography, spirituality and contemplation.

Chantal Ringuet

Chantal Ringuet is a French speaking Canadian, born and raised in Québec City, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2017, but now lives in Montréal. Chantal is an award-winning author, scholar and translator. She has published two collections of poems, Le sang des ruines (2009 Jacques-Poirier literary award) and Under the Skin of War (inspired by the photographs of Don McCullin, BuschekBooks, 2013) and is the co-editor of the collective work Les révolutions de Leonard Cohen (PUQ, 2016), which received a 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award.


In Reykjavík Chantal has met Icelandic authors and other artists and explored the city and the countryside beyond it.  Writers that deal with environmental issues have caught her attention as well as poets, not least those who write about nature.