"...with time you will accept that I can sing...and you will listen"
January 25, 2020 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Bertsolaritza is a form of improvised sung poetry traditional in Basque Country. In 2009, Maialen Lujanbio Zugasti became the first woman to win the Bertsolari Txapelketa Nagusia, a competition held every four years covering all regions of Basque Country. In 2017, she became the first woman to win it twice. She was part of the generation of young bersolaris that started to revive the tradition in the 1980s.

Maialen's txapeldunaren agurra, "winner's farewell" in 2009 (with English subtitles).

The English Wikipedia article on Maialen Lujanbio has audio of her winning solo performance in 2009 and an English translation.

Maialen's winning solo in 2017. Translation and background by Arrate Hidalgo on Twitter.

Interview with Maialen Lujanbio Zugasti by Estitxu Eizagirre in 2007 (English translation).

What is Bertsolaritza?, a short documentary by the organization Mintzola Ahozko Lantegia.

All the examples in this post are solo performances, but elkarrizketa, "conversation", is also a common format where a pair of bertsolaris are given a topic and respond to each other's verses.
posted by nangar (4 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This is really interesting -- I'm glad there were a few with an English translation, even if it's not quite the same in translation, so I could understand a little better how the prompts and the extemporaneous poetry work.
posted by cnidaria at 11:27 PM on January 25, 2020

An elkarrizketa ("dialogue") with English subtitles: Maialen Akizu sings the role of a teenager who's found out she's pregnant, and Alaia Martin sings the part of her mom. (Click CC for subtitles.)

I couldn't find an example of elkarrizketa with English subtitles or a translation when I was putting this post together. Then, after I posted it, this shows up in my YouTube recommendations. This video is also from Mintzola Ahozko Lantegia. (I should have looked harder, I guess.)
posted by nangar at 7:53 AM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow. The only other traditional improvised sung poetry I know of is that of the Bedouin people (especially women) explored in Lila Abu-Lughod's Veiled Sentiments (which I discovered via MF, natch). The nature of that project was such that there were no public recordings of the poetry under discussion; being able to hear an analogous art form is truly thrilling. Maialen is so engrossing to watch and listen to, both with and without subtitles. Really excited to have learned about this; what an amazing bit of human culture. Many thanks.
posted by youarenothere at 8:30 AM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for this incredible rabbit hole. I knew literally nothing about this art form and it’s fascinating.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 7:44 PM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

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