Category: Basque Books (page 1 of 12)

CBS Event: Literatura eta Musika with David Romtvedt

Do you have an interest in the Basque Diaspora and enjoy good music? If so, the CBS and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library is pleased to invite you to Literatura eta Musika featuring CBS author and accordionist David Romtvedt on March 11-12 at 4 p.m. in UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Rotunda.

David and Caitlin

On March 11, David will be reading from his book Buffalotarrak: An Anthology of the Basques of Buffalo, Wyoming. This book is a collection of personal essays written by and about the Basques of Buffalo. These stories illuminate the experiences of the Basques in Wyoming and tie into the broader theme of the Basque diaspora in the American West.

On March 12, David will be reading from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space. In this historical fiction piece, David explores the experiences of Zelestina, a 16 year-old Basque girl in northern Wyoming. Inspired by the real life experiences of two Basque women, the character of Zelestina departs from the stereotype of the Basque immigrant as a lonely sheepherder.

After each talk, David will perform on the accordion and will be accompanied by his daughter, Caitlin Belem Romtvedt, an accomplished musician who specializes in “Brazilian and Cuban music, and old-style swing, blues, and jazz”. After the lecture on March 12 only, Elko-based Basque accordionist Mercedes Mendive will join the duo.

Mercedes Mendive

Admission is free! We hope to see you there!

Basque Women’s Book Club

A group of four Basque women have created a Basque book club, starring the books The Center for Basque Studies Press. So far, they have read A Man Called Aita and My Mama Marie, each a collection of stories by Joan Errea about growing up in rural Nevada with her parents Marie Jeanne and Arnaud Paris, both immigrants from Euskal Herria. They have also read At Midnight by Javier Arzuaga, a memoir of a young Basque priest whose parish was in La Cabaña, the fortress where the accomplices of the disposed dictator who had not fled after the Cuban Revolution were held, and later executed between Feburary and May of 1959.

“Our book group was started by us wanting to read these particular books, and talking about them”, said Florence Frye, the head of the book club. Frye also said that they are deciding on a new book from the CBS Press soon. If you are interested in joining the book club or have any questions, please contact Florence Frye at: nevadalovestory@gmail.com, and look out for the press’s new releases for Spring 2019 at: https://basquebooks.com/.

                          

2019 Basque Writing Contest

The 2019 Basque Writing Contest is here! We are accepting manuscripts starting Friday to basquestudies@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing all your wonderful literary works and good luck!

 

 


Anne-Marie Chiramberro Wins Third in Basque Literary Contest

Anne-Marie Chiramberro, a Basque American from the San Francisco Bay Area and author of the blog Hella Basque, has won third in the 2018 Basque Literary Contest for her manuscript “Wannabe Basque”, which is a collection of essays that explores Chiramberro’s experience as a daughter of a Basque immigrant, and navigating being Basque in America and being American in Euskal Herria, a bit of an outlier in both places. “I’m interested in how Basque identity is passed on from Basque immigrants to their American-born children. I wanted to explore that theme in my own life. My father is from the Basque Country and my mother’s family is from the Béarn, the French region just east of the Basque Country,” Chiramberro said, “For years I’ve asked myself: How did I come to feel so strongly Basque and so disconnected from my Béarnais heritage?… This story is me reflecting on my childhood, searching for answers to these questions. I feel they could be useful in helping us to better promote Basque culture and develop Basque identity in the diaspora… Spreading Basque culture is a tool to ensure its survival. The more we disperse Basque culture, the better we will maintain our Basque identities and be understood as a people.”

Interview with Michelle Petitte, Winner of the 2018 CBS Literary Contest

The Center for Basque Studies is pleased to announce the winner of our 2018 Literary Contest is Michelle Petitte, with her story Etxe Roxenia! 

Michelle Petitte

CBS Graduate Student Callie Greenhaw interviewed Michelle to find out more about her and her work.

Please tell us about yourself.

I was born in the French Hospital in Los Angeles and grew up feeling I was French Basque as much as I was American. I visited the Pays Basque with my Amatxi for the first time when I was thirteen and felt the pull of the culture and people. Retirement from my job as an educator two years ago has given me the time and opportunity to explore my cultural legacy and to begin writing Amatxi’s stories.

I live in Southern California and am married with two grown children.

What is Etxe Roxenia about?

Etxe Roxenia tells the true story of Arroxa Caminoa Bidegain, a young Basque girl born in 1864. She grew up in the enclave of Bosate, Spain; her Aita was the town miller. A serious childhood injury set Arroxa’s life on an unexpected path, one that would require espiritu indarra, strength of heart and spirit.

Arroxa was my great-grandmother. The story is written from my memories of the events as told by my Amatxi Lina, as well as notes kept by my mother, Renée. I also researched Basque culture and history, then tried to envision how each scene might have unfolded.

What was the inspiration for your work?

My Amatxi, Lina Bidegain Tauzin, was Basque. She grew up in Urepel, a small village in the Pyrenees mountains in France. She was a story teller. From her favorite spot on the corner of the couch, she shared with her eight grandchildren a lifetime of tales; crossing the Pyrenees on foot at age four, growing up in the village, traveling alone by ship to America at age nineteen. As a child, she was poor in possessions, but rich in family and love, and had a sense of adventure. Her grandchildren loved her stories. Now I am attempting to capture on paper her indomitable spirit, the beauty of her Basque heritage, the changing world that shaped her life.

Please tell us about your other projects.

I have always loved to write. Etxe Roxenia is my first complete narrative story, but I continue to write about Lina’s life. I recently traveled to Montana with my sisters and cousins. We met the family of John Etchart from Aldudes and visited their Stone House Ranch where Lina immigrated to work as a cook for Basque sheepherders in 1916. This is another wonderful chapter of her life, filled with Basque people and experiences.

In order to record Lina’s stories for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we created an online blog called The Lina Project, and invited the family to share. It includes Lina’s Legacy pages with information about the Basque culture and historical context, along with Amaxti’s Story pages, short drafts of my memories of her storytelling. My sisters, Kathleen and Tonya, have contributed their own memories to the blog.

Is there anything else you want our readers to know?

Writing my Amatxi’s stories has become a journey of discovery. The more I learn about the Basque culture and people, the more I want to know. Along the way I have met so many interesting and gracious people; they share their own stories and support my aspirations. It has been a wonderful, inspiring experience and has deepened my connection to my Basque heritage

Zorionak, Michelle! Keep a look out in the Center for Basque Studies Bookstore for Etxe Roxenia, coming in May 2019.

Night of All Nations 2018

This month, the CBS and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library represented Basque culture at the 2018 Night of All Nations at the University of Nevada, Reno. Night of All Nations, organized by the International Club, provides the opportunity for students and visitors to learn about over 30 different cultures and people from around the world.

Volunteers from the CBS and Basque Library enjoyed a fun night educating guests about the Basque Country and Basque culture, while learning about the other cultures represented at the event. The most common questions we received were concerned about the geopolitical situation of the Basque Country and about Euskara. Towards the end of the event, pintxos were provided to give guests a taste of authentic Basque cuisine.

Basque Books Round-Up 2018

It has been another busy and exciting year for Basque publishing! The year started out with our attendance at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Our booth there was very well-attended and we launched local Elko author Gretchen Skivington’s novel (a past winner of our Basque writing contest) Echevarria. In addition to selling the book at our booth, we also hosted an event at which the work of Joan Errea was read by your Basque books editor, Florence Frye read from her stories about growing up in Gerlach, David Romtvedt read from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space, and Gretchen presented from her new book as well. The spring continued with the publication of our director Xabier Irujo’s short history on the bombing of Gernika, The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History. The publication was celebrated in Winnemucca in conjunction with the Basque festival and NABO convention held there with another booth and with a wonderful dance performance about the bombing of Gernika by Lamoille, Nevada dancers Ardi Baltza. Ardi Baltza continued presenting the dance and the book at events in Gooding, Idaho, and Elko, Nevada, among other places.

It was with great pleasure this year that we published At Midnight by the late Javier Arzuaga. This tremendously interesting story recounts the experiences of a young Basque priest counseling to condemned prisoners in the aftermath of the 1950s Cuban revolution. It is a tremendously powerful story about doubt, faith, human kindness, and the confrontation with the eternity. In a masterful translation by Cameron J. Watson, this book is a must read!

Bertsolaritza has also been a theme of the year, with Basque bertsolariak also attending the Elko Poetry Gathering and a book forthcoming with shared articles on the oral poetry form and the experience of poetry in the Western United States. In addition, we published World Improvised Verse Singing, edited by Xabier Irujo, a collection of articles on improvised and other oral poetries from around the world.

The tenor changed with our next publication, Stories of Basque Mythology for Children, by Bakarne Atxukarro, Izaskun Zubialde, and illustrated by Asun Egurza. This delightfully and colorfully illustrated children’s book runs the gamut of classical Basque mythological tales, all translated by students from the USAC program in Donostia-San Sebastián.

In addition, a collection of article based on the conference that was held in Iceland regarding the massacre of Basque whalers there hundreds of years ago was presented, Jon Gudmundsson Laedi’s True Account and the Massacre of Basque Whalers in Iceland in 1615, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio. The story not only talks about the Basque whalers, however, but also the Icelanders, including especially Jon Gudmundsson Laedi, who rejected their countrymen’s violence and sought to present the truth about the events far out in the Atlantic. And it will continue to be a busy fall, with the current launch of a new kind of book for us, Meggan Laxalt Mackey’s, Lekuak: The Basque Places of Boise, Idaho, this richly illustrated book tells the story of Basques in Boise from their roots in trans-Atlantic migration and the sheepherding industries to their modern contributions to the city of Boise and the state of Idaho, an influence that will continue to be felt deeply into the future. And in production is the next installment of the Basques in the United States, with many more names added; Asun Garikano’s Kaliforniakoak, a history of Basques in California; a collection of articles on German and Nazi influence in the Basque Country and Catalonia during the Civil War and World War II, and our classic, the first English translation of the diaries of the first Basque lehendakari, Jose Antonio Agirre, in a richly annotated edition, and much more.

             

Agur Dan! Eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

It is with great sadness for us at the CBS that our book productions editor, Dan Montero has decided to leave and “seek new challenges,” as he put it. Today is his last day of work. Many thanks, Dan, for the wonderful books you produced, and for being a great friend and colleague!

Dan has served as publications editor for the Center for Basque Studies since August, 2009, during which time he has managed the publication of books on many Basque topics. He sat down and recalled some of his favorites, “there can’t be any single story like that of Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees, it is a publisher’s dream. The manuscript, written by local artist and Basque Mary Jean Etcheberry, was brought to us by her grandnieces as a carbon copy of a typed manuscript that had been passed down through the family. Artwork on original blocks. And a story that grabbed me as soon as I sat down to read it, it is a really beautiful book and I feel so lucky that I got to work on it.”

Another exceptional story that he recalls particularly fondly is that of Winnemucca, Nevada author, Joan Errea, and her tremendous memoirs about her mother and father, My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. Joan had published the books in spiral notebooks, with drawings by Bert Paris, but it was her daughter, Lianne Iroz, who brought them in to the Center. “I’ve particularly loved the homegrown books about the West we’ve done,” he recalls, “especially My Mama Marie, I can almost imagine Marie stepping down from the train and being spoken to in Basque by her future husband, Arnaud Paris. And knowing the place where it happened makes it all that much more meaningful.”

When asked about the specific challenges that he has enjoyed about publishing Basque books, he answers, “in general, it has been a pleasure to work in a place that takes on so many and so many complex translations, from Basque usually, but also Spanish, French, and even German!”This was the case with the publication of The Selected Writings of Alexander von Humboldt for the Basque Classics Series. “Translations were especially hard because I don’t have much Basque, but I had the masterful editing of Cameron J. Watson. Without him many of our books would not have been possible, he is a true scholar in the best meaning of the word and I will miss working with him and our weekly Skype meetings!”

Other highlights he recalls fondly are sales trips he made the Durango Azoka, for him “a deeply meaningful cultural event that I was blessed to be a part of, and to meet so many great Basques at our booth.” And a trip to Buffalo, Wyoming, for the NABO Convention, “it’s an incredible part of the world,” he says, “and it means even more to me because, even though I had never been there, I imagined it and held it dear due to working on Buffalotarrak and Zelestina Urza in Outer Spaceby David Romtvedt, a truly special novel.”

He also would like to thank all of the visitors, grad students, and friends who have spent time at the Center; professors Xabier Irujo, Sandra Ott, Joseba Zulaika, Mariann Vaczi, and professor emeritus Bill Douglass, for their dedication to research on Basque culture; and all of the student assistants who have helped him through the years, especially Kim Jo Daggett, Joannes Zulaika, Ezti Villanueva, Meg Montero, and Carly Sauvageau. He has a special thanks for Kate Camino, for being a great coworker and friend, and for “holding the place together.” He adds, “I give my most heartfelt thanks to all those people who have picked up and read one of the Basque books I’ve had the absolute honor of working on while I have been here. I love books more than just about anything, and without readers there are no books. So mila eskerto our readers!”

We wish you all the best, and hope to see you around sometime! Agur Dan, eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

                         

 

 

Getting to Know Basque Books: A Man Called Aita

After reading My Mama Marie this summer, I decided recently to read Joan Errea’s other book in our collection, A Man Called Aita.


 
The book was a quick read, a collection of clever poems all about Joan Errea’s father Arnaud Paris and Errea’s experience growing up on the ranches of rural Nevada. Arnaud was a kind and gentle man who was a sharp contrast to Errea’s experience with her stern mother Marie. The poems are clever and playful, complimented by the fun illustrations at the beginning of every poem, including sketches of the Paris’s sheepdog “Queenie” and the pigs that had gotten into Aita’s stash of cider. It is definitely a worth-while book to check out, especially those who are fans of My Mama Marie .

 

Paul Laxalt Dead at 96

Paul Laxalt, born in Carson City, Nevada, on August 2, 1922, died on August 5, 2018 at the age of 96. Laxalt served as both the Governor of Nevada (1967-1971) and a United States Senator (1975-1987), and was involved in politics throughout his life, serving also as a chairman of Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns and working with Reagan to clean up Lake Tahoe.

Laxalt went to college at Santa Clara University in California, then enlisted in the Army in World War II as a medic. Under the G.I. Bill, he went on to the University of Denver to earn his law degree. In 1950, Laxalt was elected Ormsby County’s (in northwestern Nevada, which contains Carson City) district attorney and served for one term. Laxalt was elected lieutenant governor in 1962.

10/6/1983 President Reagan Nancy Reagan Paul Laxalt Bob Michel Corrine Michel and Carol Laxalt watch the Performance by Oak Ridge Boys during the Barbecue for Members of Congress on the South Lawn by Reagan Presidential Library via Wikimedia Commons

10/6/1983 President Reagan Nancy Reagan Paul Laxalt, Bob Michel, Corrine Michel, and Carol Laxalt watch the Performance by Oak Ridge Boys during the Barbecue for Members of Congress on the South Lawn by Reagan Presidential Library via Wikimedia Commons

Laxalt was the brother of Robert Laxalt, who was the author of Sweet Promised Land, a groundbreaking novel for Basque culture in the United States, and the grandfather of Nevada’s Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt, who is now running for Governor of Nevada.

 

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