Fecha de publicación: 04/06/2012
Translated by Basque Research.
The philologist Belén Oronoz has gone on from studying the Ez Dok Amairu movement to taking an in-depth look at JosAnton Artze (Usurbil, 1939), the focus of her thesis which she has defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Previously, she produced a comparative analysis of the group (exponent of the new Basque song) and its Catalan opposite number, thanks to a scholarship awarded by Eusko Ikaskuntza (Basque Studies Society). That was when her interest in analysing Artze's work more exhaustively came about. Specifically, she has studied the period spanning 1969 and 1979, when he was known by the name Harzabal (he was subsequently in the habit of using the nickname Hartzut). The title of the PhD thesis is JosAnton Artze 'Harzabal': inguruaren eragina poesiagintzan (1969-1979) (JosAnton Artze aka 'Harzabal': the influence of the milieu on his poetry [1969-1979]).
"There were three poets in the Ez Dok Amairu group: Xabier Lete, José Ángel Irigarai and JosAnton Artze. They wielded great ideological influence, since they were the ones who wrote the lyrics; and Artze also used to devote great attention to the aesthetic aspect, the mise en scene. Ideologically, he reflected to perfection the times in which they lived and he was also involved in experimentation. He used to get involved in everything; that was the touch he used to provide," explains Oronoz. This researcher has delved into the four books of poems he published during those years: Isturitzetik Tolosan barru (1969), Laino guztien azpitik (1973), Eta sasi guztien gainetik (1973) and Bide bazterrean hi eta ni kantari (1979). She also spoke to Artze himself and read press articles about him. For example, he said in an interview at that time that he saw the world "from outside looking inwards", and that, in fact, was the starting point for Oronoz's thesis: "He was influenced by the context, his poems reflected it. What I researched was this: how the outside world affected him and his poetry."
Commitment and experimentation
For this very reason, Oronoz has based herself on the perspective provided by culturalism to conduct her research: "Culturalism studies the relationships literary works have with power. In the case of Artze I can see three hubs: on the one hand -and within his commitment- counterculture and the Basque cultural front; and on the other, experimentation.
As regards counterculture, in many of his poems Artze confronts power reincarnated by capitalist society. The countercultural movement, among other things, defends individual freedom against any kind of authoritarian structure, escapes from the "bloody-mindedness" of Judaeo-Christian morality, distances itself from the reasoning of Western culture seeking more irrational means, and calls for ecologism. As Oronoz explains, Artze's work embraces these features. As in this poem for example: Galdu dutenekin elkartuko naiz / bainan, ez / sekulan ez / jokatu ez duenarekin (I will join those who have lost / but never / on no account / those you have not run any risks).
As regards the demands with respect to the Basque cultural front, Franco represented power, and Artze's poems constituted the resistance that was opposing it. In this case, Oronoz has studied "the defining characteristics of the Basque patriot" and the references that are made with respect to these poems. It is about territoriality, awareness of identity, and historical memory. As far as the latter is concerned, she has focused on the effort to merge the tradition of the cultural front with modernity. An example of this is the use of the txalaparta* (which Artze himself played) and the "new shoots" he contributed to oral poetry (which is what the poet Juan Mari Lekuona said about him in the wake of the publication of the book Isturitzetik Tolosan barru). For example, the following poem is highly representative of the said Basque cultural front: Ama / amagandik sortu danak / maite du ama / ama / lurra / herria / lurrik gabeko / herririk gabeko / amarik gabeko / seme-alabak (Mother / he who was born of his mother / loves his mother / mother / land / country / offspring / no land / no country / no mother). "It is a direct identification with his mother, with the land, and with the Basque Country," explains the author of the thesis.
Oronoz points out that he also dabbled in experimentation; between 1969 and 1979 especially: "He is reported to have been in the habit of creating a specific poetry. For example, in the book Eta sasi guztien gainetik appears a dark background against which the letters appear to be suspended in mid-air. He also uses puns, as in the poem on the word "coca cola". Visual poetry, auditory poetry... and tactile poetry, also used by Artze during this experimental period: "For example, he wanted to play around with the paper in the book Bide bazterrean hi eta ni kantari. The paper feels different: the cover of the book is rougher, the inside smoother."
About the author
Belén Oronoz-Anchordoqui (Hondarribia, 1974) is a graduate in Basque Philology. She wrote up her thesis under the supervision of Jon Kortazar-Uriarte, professor of Basque Philology and member of the Department of the Didactics of Language and Literature of the University School of Teacher Training in Leioa (UPV/EHU). She defended her thesis in Vitoria-Gasteiz at the Department of Linguistics and Basque Studies of the Arts Faculty. Oronoz is currently a teacher of Basque in statutory secondary education.
* Traditional Basque percussion instrument consisting of wooden planks struck by short wooden sticks
Caption: Belen Oronoz, author of the thesis. (Photo: Juan Carlos Ruiz / Argazki Press).