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"Who Put the Code in the Dagoeneko?"

An ongoing project, sometimes also known as With Love from Ainezalandia

So: Who Put the Code in the Dagoeneko?

This is an ongoing study, here with audiovisuals and show-and-tell, of a 35-thousand-year-old language and of how it looks & sounds today.

Ta jarraitzen dugu = And so we go on....

Elizabeth Macklin on Arte[faktua] 

Photo by Mary Stewart Hammond

Mikel Urdangarin with Elizabeth Macklin at Bowery Poetry

Thoughout 2015 Urdangarin did over thirty solo concerts around the Basque Country and elsewhere in Europe, presenting new, acoustic arrangements of songs from the nearly two decades of his artistic career, along with new work. The live album “Mikel Urdangarin 2015” came out that year. On November 1st he presented a sampling, accompanied by Elizabeth Macklin, who had translated his and Kirmen Uribe's multimedia projects Zaharregia, txikiegia agian / Too Old, Too Small, Maybe (2003), Bar Puerto (2010), and Jainko Txiki eta Jostalari Hura (2013), and that night, alongside translations of song lyrics, read a sampling from new work of her own, including parts of With Love from Ainezalandia and other poems originating in his Basque language and universe.

Margolaria (The Painter), Mikel Urdangarin’s new album.

Ten years after Zaharregia, txikiegia agian, Kirmen Uribe, Mikel Urdangarin, Rafa Rueda, Bingen Mendizabal, and Mikel Valverde reunited to make another trilingual CD-book, with poems and lyrics by Kirmen Uribe and music and art by the others: Jainko txiki eta jostalari hura (That Tiny Playful God; English texts by Elizabeth Macklin, Spanish by Gerardo Markuleta.)


"And ours is an old country,
our words are thousands of years old.
And ours is an old country,
but we know how to get on well together."

Music & vocals: Mikel Urdangarin

Kirmen Uribe reading the title poem


I would like to be that god who drew the freckles on you,
that tiny playful god,
painting little dots by the thousands on your skin.

I like your freckles.
I like counting them as if they were stars.
And every day discovering a new star,
in the way of an astronomer who finds a supernova
in the hiddenmost place on your back
or beneath your breasts.

I take pleasure in wandering your skin with my own finger,
following the invisible lines created
among all the different planets.
Slower than slow, like the exactest telescope.

You say you don’t like them,
you’d rather not have any freckles at all,
on your smooth white skin.
But what would I do, I’d be a sailor
astray in the starless night.

I remember I asked you to give me a freckle
the day that we met.
That one next to your eye.
That small Ithaca was enough for me
to build my house right there.
And you, generous, told me:
Every single one of them, all for you,
if you can guess how many there are.

I would like to be that god who drew the freckles on you,
that tiny playful god.
And every night kiss your freckles,
one by one and with great care,
with great care, so they stay on.

The English translation first appeared, in a slightly different form, in Little Star 3.



For the water of the river is also a flag.
—Yehuda Amichai

On the bridge over the Artibai,
My arms flat on the railing.

The aspen, the wooden
Skeleton of that old boat.

After the war they left it
To disintegrate right there, a reprisal.

The leaves on the surface of the water
Head upstream.

A sign that it’s now high tide.
This is the moment I like best.

For it makes me think water doesn’t
Always head in the same direction.

Poem: Kirmen Uribe
Music and vocals: Rafa Rueda

Live at Bilbao’s Alhóndiga

Some poems from the Dagoeneko project

Poems in translation, 2012

Euskararako Alkimia = Towards Basque: An Alchemy
A mini-anthology of poetry and song at Alhóndiga Bilbao in February 2012, with Antonio Casado da Rocha, Rafa Rueda, and Petti; graphics by Matxalen Aldaiturriaga. (In Euskara, often with English supertitles.)

Notes on a Loose Piece of Paper

Remember to call home before too long.
To see the long reeds when they are in motion.
Not to punish myself as much as that again.
To miss the last train and wait for the next.

To wash off your injured hands in the creek.
Know there is no happiness without sadness.
Feel the glass caress of morning in the kiss.
Accept what the Devil offers once in a while.

Perhaps everything can in fact change.
Perhaps there’s any road at all somewhere.

Remember to tell what blocks you at every turn.
Not speak while watching the cormorants.
Hold out a hand to the doubts and fears.
Drive along alone without orientation.

Kirmen Uribe

Music & vocals: Mikel Urdangarin Zaharregia, txikiegia agian © 2003 (Gaztelupeko Hotsak)

English translation from Meanwhile Take My Hand © 2007 (Graywolf Press)

More songs

Basque Spring, 2011

Because Winter’s Gone
When the snows have gone / from among my mountains, / the sun’s onstage / behind the curtain. // It’s frightened to come out, / it has stagefright, / in this work it hasn’t performed for a long time. // The tiniest of rays breaks through / in today’s performance, / a great happiness / embraces me. // Please say out loud / that winter’s done and gone / because my cold soul / doesn’t believe it. // Caress me now / among blue waters, / there’s no cloud now / in the naked faces, / and the loudest cry / comes when making love / raw and endless / because winter’s gone. // Like newborns / I’m needing heartbeats now, / to see with my ears what my eyes don’t hear. // Please say out loud / that winter’s gone, / because I’ve burned up all the sheets. // Caress me now / among blue waters, / there’s no cloud now / in the naked faces, / and the loudest cry comes / when making love, / raw and endless / because winter’s gone. // The only sound at all / in your breast / because winter’s gone and / my edges have gone rounded / beside you, / one calming ray / because winter’s gone, / because winter’s gone. // The only sound at all / in your breast / The only sound at all / in your breast / The only sound at all / in your breast / Because winter's gone. (BIS)...”—Gaizka Izagirre. * Zea Mays (2010). * Sign translation Ainhoa Moiua (2011). Eng. EM.

Zeuon itzalak from Haragizkoa ikuskizuna on Vimeo.

"Your Own Shadows"
Music: Rafa Rueda • Poem: Omar Nabarro (heteronym of Edorta Jimenez) • Photographs: Joseba Barrenetxea • For the poem in English (tr. Ana Larrinaga): And to get the disc:

Not so recent news,
but still ...

The trailer of "Agian (Maybe)," a 2006 documentary about at least some of all this, by Arkaitz Basterra (with a journal entry by Kirmen Uribe).


The poet was trying to teach me
the flavor of a pending word,
a word for a dangling kind

of awaiting, contained, he said,
in the very sound of the word,
for which we had nothing easy.

Casting about, casting out and finding
only an orange, bobbing; another;
a purple for which we had no rhyme.

This kind was not “impatient”; no Southern
biding. A slow fast toward food. Wasted no time.
And so I had to find another way of conveying

a long, long moment of waiting
alert to catch a slight sign, any day
the whole length of our wait.

—Elizabeth Macklin

An apologia ...

In hopes of forestalling misunderstanding, a short list of some Basque national poets (twenty-first-century division):

And the list could go on, since there is, obviously, no single Basque National Poet.