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Joseba Sarrionandia

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Joseba Sarrionandia

Joseba Sarrionandia Uribelarrea (born April 13th 1958 in Iurreta, Biscay, Basque Country) is a Basque writer. He has written many poetry books, short stories, and novels. In 1985, Sarrionandia escaped from prison after he was put in for being a member of the Basque armed group ETA. Since then, he has lived in secret but he still writes books. He is one of the best-known contemporary Basque writers.


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Sarrionandia studied the Basque language and earned a PhD in Basque Philology from the University of Deusto in Bilbao. He was a Basque language teacher and taught phonetics. His writings were published in a number of Basque magazines. He also translated books by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Konstantino Kavafis, T. S. Eliot and Fernando Pessoa into the Basque language.

In 1980 Sarrionandia was arrested by Spanish police for being a member of ETA. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. In 1985 he escaped from prison with Iñaki Pikaea during a concert in the jail with Basque singer Imanol Larzabal. They hid themselves inside a loudspeaker. The Basque rock group Kortatu wrote the song Sarri, Sarri in honor of this. He has lived in secret since his escape and writes a lot about exile.

Sarrionandia has written books and poems which have been sung by different Basque singers. There's also an audio book called Hau da ene ondasun guzia of Sarrionandia reading his own poems as well as many songs performed by different singers.

  • Ignacio Aldekoa Prize (1980)
  • Resurreccion Maria Azkue Prize (1980)
  • Bilbao City Council Prize (1980)
  • Spanish Literature critics', Basque Narrative Prize (1986 and 2001)
  • Euskadi Prize for Essay in Basque (2011)

One of his poems

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The blacksmith slave
Captive in the rainforests of the West
they brought yo to Rome, slave,
they gave you the blacksmith work
and you make chains.
The red iron that you carry out the oven
can be adapted as you want,
you can make swords
in order that your people could break the chains,
but you, this slave,
you make chains, more chains. Translation source Archived 2012-07-08 at Archive.today

Other websites

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