Joxan Artze, the innovative Basque poet, has died

  • Artze was an important figure in the renaissance of Basque culture from the 1960's onwards, along with other members of the avant-garde Ez Dok Amairu movement, set up in the last years of the Spanish dictatorship. Born at Usurbil, Gipuzkoa, in 1939, he died at home on the 12th of January after an illness.

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Joxan Artze (photo: Gaztezulo)

Joxan Artze is known, amongst other things, for his work as a poet. He published ten books, many of which were innovative and ground-breaking for Basque literature when they came out. For instance, 1969's Isturitzetik Tolosan barru, an experimental book reissued by Pamiela eleven years ago. It included visual poems, which were quite rare in Basque at the time. “In many senses, Artze's collection approaches poetry in a way which has never been done before in Basque”, Juan Mari Lekuona wrote in his 1970 critique in Zeruko Argia magazine.

Artze was also an important member of the Ez Dok Amairu movement, which was founded to stand up to Franco's censorship and to breathe life into culture. Many of his pieces have become famous as the lyrics for musicians' work throughout the Basque Country. Mikel Laboa's Txoria txori and Gure bazterrak are the best-known, but several other pieces, which not so well-known, are equally worthy of mention. For instance, Baztan, Zaude lasai and Ama hil zaigu, all of which show the writer's way of seeing the world.

As well as being a writer, his work with the Basque "txalaparta" percussion instrument is also worth underlining. Along with his brother Jesus he worked to bring the instrument back to popularity. You can see them playing a txalaparta in the video below.

 

This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

Kanal hauetan artxibatua: English  |  Euskal literatura  |  Ez Dok Amairu  |  Poesia  |  Joxan Artze

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