Maialen Lujanbio New Bertsolari Champ December 13 2009

Bilbao, Spain. Maialen Lujanbio from Hernani is the first woman to win the famous txapela of the Basque bertsolari, and in an emotional conclusion, reigning champion Andoni Egaña (from Zarautz)—the champion these last 4 times—announced his retirement from the main championships during his farewell verse. Lots of emotion all round. Jon Maia from Zumaia was a surprising 3rd, Egaña 4th and Unai Iturriaga from Durango (who also appears along with Maialen on the DVD for Sabin Bikandi’s Alejandro Aldekoa)

SCORING

Maialen Lujanbio: 1.630 points.
Amets Arzallus: 1.580 points.
Jon Maia: 1.059 points.
Andoni Egaña: 1.058 points.
Unai Iturriaga: 1.046 points.
Sustrai Colina: 1.037 points.
Aitor Mendiluze: 1.009 points.
Aitor Sarriegi: 983 points.

The championship was played between Lujanbio and Amets Arzallus, the final competition resumed the story of two children confronting their mother upon her being released from a treatment center for anorexia:
-Lujanbio: Ispiluari zuk gezurra izaten diozu (you lie to the mirror).
-Arzallus: Gaurtik aurrera gure begiak zuk duzu ispilu (from here on out our eyes are your mirror).
-Lujanbio: Guri bioi jaten ematen ziguna, ez du jaterik nahi (she who used to make our food, now denies herself the simplest taste).
-Arzallus: Ama, hor dauzazu saltsa (…) Baino hori bukatu aurretik ez zaitez altxa (mother here is the salsa, but don’t get up until you finish it all).

For more about the bertsolari tradition and word games, check out Samuel Armistead and Joseba Zulaika, eds., Voicing the Moment: Improvised Basque Poetry and the Oral Tradition

Andoni Egaña, in his article for Voicing the Moment, says:

“The improvised bertso (”verse") has something magical about it and, although it is not actually magic, to a certain extent this is what the public expects; waiting expectantly for the white rabbit to appear, knowing full well that the top hat does not have a false bottom, unless it is the linguistic and dialectic skill of the bertsolari. Improvising bertsoak (“verses”), however, is neither trickery nor necessarily the fruit of an extraordinary genius . . . It may seem paradoxical, but improvisation for the bertsolariak is very much a thought-out act . . . So where does the beauty of improvised bertsolaritza lie? It comes from the fact that it is one of the few cultural expressions wherein the moment of artistic creation and that of its exposition to the public are one and the same."