Churchill, Manitoba, by Anthony Poiraudeau
The chance result of contemplating a map and a point of departure for the imagination, Churchill's village in the Great American North welcomes the literary wanderings of an author disappointed by his travels.
A versatile author
A writer and essayist, Anthony Poiraudeau writes about numerous subjects and interests. This eclecticism began with his education, which included a masters in art history and the beginnings of a PhD in geography. These two fields revolve around the concept of space, which holds a prominent place in his novels, from The El Pocero Project (“Projet El Pocero”) (Inculte, 2013) to Churchill, Manitoba (Inculte, 2017). In addition to these books, there are his many print and digital journalistic contributions, in the form of articles dealing with philosophy, sports and pop culture.
At the edge of a dream
While helping a friend move, the narrator finds himself in possession of an old Vidal-Lablache wall map. Fascinated by world maps since childhood, he immerses himself in contemplations of distant places and exotic names. One of these sparks the author's imagination enough to carry him on a month-long trip to Churchill, in the Canadian province of Manitoba.
Once there, a ban on exploring the surrounding nature, polar-bear territory, turns the adventure into a retreat, and leads the unfortunate traveller to embark on another journey, this time a literary one.
The tale of a disappointment transformed into a literary opportunity, Churchill, Manitoba is the result of a meandering writing process. Before opting for a narrative which is if not entirely autobiographical, at least introspective, Anthony Poiraudeau explored other avenues, ranging from a half-fictional, half-documentary history to an encyclopaedic report.
A more personal and fundamental form eventually prevailed, beginning from the author’s fascination with geography in order to create a dream which resonates with the reader.
The American Dream
To write his book, Anthony Poiraudeau himself spent several weeks in Churchill, in the Canadian province of Manitoba, as part of a Stendhal residency in 2014. The book as it exists today is the fruit of this residency, during which the author was able to compare his fantasy vision of the Great North with the seclusion of a small city.
Although initially disappointing, this forced inactivity gave him the opportunity, thanks to the municipal library, to discover the history of a region of Canada full of territorial conflicts, open spaces and childhood dreams.
Winner of an Institut français Stendhal Residency, Anthony Poiraudeau spent a month living in Churchill, a small Manitoba town in Canada’s Far North, in 2016.
The Stendhal programme allows French authors or authors living in France to travel to a foreign country and work on a writing project related to that country.