Kirmen Uribe, Mikel Urdangarin & others: CD-book

Kirmen Uribe is one of the most influential Basque writers. A poet and novelist, the work of this 43 year old has already been translated into many languages including English and Japanese. His first novel ‘Bilbao-New York-Bilbao’ achieved great success and won a Spanish national fiction award. He has also taken part in a number of onstage performances combining literature with other arts and this new release entitled Jainko txiki eta jostalari hura is a CD-book which gathers together some of Uribe’s poems and sets them alongside music and art.

The collaborators jointly credited with Uribe on this work are the musicians Mikel Urdangarin, Bingen Mendizabal and Rafa Rueda, and also the artist Mikel Valverde whose paintings and drawings illustrate the words of the poems which are published in the 125 page CD-sized hardback book in three languages: Euskara (Basque), Spanish and English. There is also a tanka and a prose-poem which are included in the book only.


The CD has twelve tracks which contain all the main poems from the book. Most of these are sung in Euskara by Urdangarin, who also composed most of the music, while a few are spoken over an accompaniment of acoustic and electric guitars, violin and percussion. What is perhaps most surprising about such a diverse and ambitious project is how well it works. Even without the book to guide and translate, the poems delivered as songs are very accessible and some are outstanding. The themes which run through much of this work are those of memory, identity and exile as, for example, in one of the most haunting pieces ‘On the Way to Sausalito’ which is surely a distant cousin of Paul Simon’s ‘Trailways Bus’. Uribe includes the lines:

I go to the same corner store I always do, the undocumented Mexicans, fill me in on Basque football standings.

What I will leave to my children, I think about it: a small language, the books and not much else.

The English title of the album is translated in the book as ‘That Tiny Playful God’. As an artifact alone the CD-book is well worth obtaining but the great bonus is that the album is such a rewarding musical experience. After a successful premiere of this work in New York the five collaborators are currently doing a presentation tour and will perform their mixture of songs, music, poems, readings and screenings in Bilbao on 17th May.

Jainko txiki eta jostalari hura is released by Elkar.

A video of the CD’s first track ‘Herri Zaharra’ (Old Country) is on Kirmen Uribe’s website:








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