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Antonine Maillet: A hard worker who is still young at heart and in spirit

Posted on Wednesday December 01, 2021

Antonine Maillet: A hard worker who is still young at heart and in spirit

Goncourt Prize-winning writer, rebel dreamer and activist for the protection of the history of her beloved Acadie, Antonine Maillet needs no introduction. At 92, this extraordinary woman is still writing and is as lively as she is active.

Aging: An advantage for writing

Retirement doesn't exist for Antonine Maillet. On the contrary, she writes daily and maintains an exceptional vitality of body and mind. In the eyes of the Acadian writer, growing old is a privilege, and authors become freer and more open with age. She is delighted with all the experience and material that she gathers as she ages. All of it serves to feed her work. "As you get older, you become more mature, and you understand that you won't be able to reinvent the world in your lifetime. But we can manage to give it a particular colour – our own. 

For the writer who allowed Acadie be known to all of the Francophonie, reaching a venerable age – far from being a barrier to creativity – offers better conditions for writing, reflection and understanding of the world and oneself. "I firmly believe that the aging writer possesses more ability to write than when they were younger." Ms. Maillet even sees writing as an extension of life and a unique learning opportunity.

Is there any reason to fear old age? Her answer is clear: not at all. "It's a conquest. It means being able to define our authenticity and our difference. I understand things at 92 that I didn't understand at 70 or 80." Now, those are the golden years served up on a silver platter!

Antonine Maillet

Spreading the word about Acadie around the world

Ms. Maillet has been bringing Acadian culture to life in her literary work for 50 years. Thanks to her, people from all over the world have become passionate about her corner of the world, from Canada to France, and even from as far away as Japan. Paradoxically, it is by leaving her native Bouctouche that Ms. Maillet has been able to expose the Acadian people to the public. "Moving away allowed me to place my Acadian identity within a larger world. Nostalgia opens our eyes. Nostalgia for Acadie makes us write about Acadie.

The writer's Acadian identity and sense of belonging have never faded since she moved to Montreal in 1970. She spends every summer in New Brunswick whenever possible. Until recently, she even owned a lighthouse there. One could say that, like the lighthouse that watches over sailors, Ms. Maillet watches over her Acadie.

Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie literary award

For more than 20 years now, the Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie literary award has been awarding prizes to Acadian authors each year in collaboration with UNI. In addition to paying tribute to Ms. Maillet, the objective of the competition is to allow young writers to contribute to the development of Acadian literature and culture. The competition seeks to honour the talent of young Acadian authors and to support them in the development of their art.

What message does the legendary writer want to send to these young creators? "You're different. Your difference is your richness. Be aware of your richness. You're Acadian. Don't sacrifice the best of your assets."

Congratulations to the winners!

Jonathan Roy and Laura-Rose Thériault are the proud winners of the 2020 contest. Congratulations to them both!

Entries are now being accepted for the Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie literary award. The deadline is December 31, 2021.

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Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie-Vie: Inspiring Insights from Two Recipients

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