Today we announce the White Review Poet’s Prize 2019 shortlist. In this third year of the Prize, three hundred...
For my partner’s first visit to his village, my father brings us to the highest peak of the Pyrenees My partner asks why the word etxe appears everywhere, from road signs to restaurants, town halls to hotels My father explains it means ‘house’, and that the house is very important for the Basques
My father doesn’t mention a Basque would rather immolate himself and his family than lose his house Gabriel Aresti had his people in mind when he wrote ‘My Father’s House’ My father doesn’t admit losing his house would be a mutilation
My father tells us the etxe is so important here his neighbours know him by the name of his house My father forgets to add he regularly threatens to disinherit me of his every time I stand up to him
My father explains that the eldest child used to inherit the family house so the other siblings had to emigrate to Argentina to earn a living What he doesn’t say is many of them refused to buy land in America because it would have meant bidding farewell to their Basque house
Many Basque surnames have etxe as their root, like Etxegaray My father deciphers our own: Iri = the city, garay = above, and at last I understand this is all about place – my surname, this visit, my angst and anger at never feeling at home in any country –
My father concludes with: it is very Basque, to leave and return