Gröndal's House UNESCO Cities of Literature Residency
International Writer‘s Residence in Reykjavík
In 2019 the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature for the first time offered a free residency for a writer from another UNESCO City of Literature. The first writer to recide in Gröndal's House as a UNESCO City of Literature guest writer was Chantal Ringuet, who was born and raised in Québec City, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2017.
In addition to working on her poetic project, Chantal wrote the following text while residing in the flat and was generous enough to share with us and our readers:
Afternoon in the studio
A cup of coffee on the table, I am reading
and taking notes. A group of people stop
on Fisherman street, next to the house.
They must be ten, fifteen people. Tourists.
There are many guided tours in the neighborhood.
“This red house belonged to Benedikt Gröndal,
one of Iceland’s most famous writers,” says
the guide. Two, three people bent over,
looking through my window. Someone asks: “Is there anyone
living in this house?” This question makes me smile.
The guide responds: “The house presents
an exhibition about Gröndal, it is open during summertime.
It is closed now”. Two people bent over. Women.
Trying to see inside the enlightened studio.
I don’t see the guide, but I can hear her saying:
“Because of the lack of trees in Reykjavik,
every time a tree dies, we plant two new trees”.
A muffled rumor follows. She pauses a second,
then adds: “In order to protect the environment,
people avoid using their cars in this sector”.
This sentence strikes me. It sounds contradictory.
Two blocks away, across Vesturgata street,
There is an interior parking lot. I take my notebook,
Write it down in a new section entitled
“Small adventures in Gröndal’s house”.
At the same moment, a man bends over.
Looking through my window. Looking at me.
Impulsively, I take my phone, select the “camera” icon.
Facing the window, I take his picture. He raises up
immediately. Here I am, a woman looking at a tourist
looking at her. Shooting his image before he had time
To scrutinize every little component of my universe.
“Writing in this studio is a kind of experimental
performance”, I think for myself, taking away
the void between people and the photograph.
In Gröndal’s house, perspectives are reversed.
David Hockney would be happy here.
Chantal Ringuet, October 2019.
2021 Residency Dedicated to Children's Literarature
The 2020 residency was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In October 2021, Fiona Khan from Durban, a UNESCO City of Literature, will be Reykjavík's guest writer.
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