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Julie Irigaray

Julie Irigaray's poems appeared internationally (US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Mexico and South Korea) in Mslexia, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Honest Ulsterman, Shearsman, Tears in the Fence and Envoi. She was selected as one of the 50 Best New British and Irish Poets 2018 (Eyewear Publishing), won second prize in the 2018 Winchester Writers’ Festival Poetry Competition and was shortlisted for The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016.



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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
ETXE

Prize Entry

November 2019

Julie Irigaray


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