Amaia Gabantxo is the winner of the 2018 Etxepare-Laboral Kutxa Translation Prize

On September 28 2018, a couple of days before International Translation Day, it’s been announced in Bilbao that the winner of the 2018 Etxepare-Laboral Kutxa Translation Prize is the literary translator and multidisciplinary artist Amaia Gabantxo. The jury awarded the prize in recognition of the excellence of one of her latest translations: the two poetry collections by Gabriel Aresti Downhill andRock & Core, published jointly in one volume by the University of Nevada Press in its Basque Literature series, which is coordinated by the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Reno.

2018/ 09/ 28, Bilbao @gabantxo

2018/ 09/ 28, Bilbao @gabantxo

The project, which contains an introduction by Jon Kortazar, received funding from the Diputación Foral Bizkaia. Translating Gabriel Aresti required a titanic effort by Gabantxo—the most prolific translator of Basque literature into English—given the sizable challenge of rendering into English the poetry of the most relevant and complex Basque author in modern times: the “father of modern Basque poetry,” and yet, a great unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world. Now that Gabriel Aresti’s poetry is available in English (the lingua franca of our times), this essential author for the understanding and conceptualizing of Basque modern thought will take his rightful place among the literary greats, and academic circles beyond the Basque Country will be able to have him as a point of reference for their research.

Amaia Gabantxo attended the local public high school in Bermeo (pop. 17,000), in the province of Bizkaia, and then travelled to Northern Ireland to study for a Bachelor of Arts in English and Irish Literature at the University of Ulster. She graduated second of her class, despite being the only foreigner in it. She was also the first student to be admitted into the prestigious Master in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) to work in translation from a minority and endangered language like Basque. During her studies, she was mentored by the renowned Catalan translator and, at the time, Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation Dr Peter Bush, and produced the first translations carried out directly from Basque into English—a collection of poems by Bernardo Atxaga. Since then, her zest for the work and artistic sensibility have led her to become an interdisciplinary artist—Amaia Gabantxo is a singer as well as literary translator, and together with her Chicago band Kantuz, puts together performances that combine literature and music. She moved to the Windy City, where she lives most of the year, in 2011, to teach Basque Language and Literature in one of the ten best universities in the world, the University of Chicago. At present, she is writing her doctoral thesis under the tutelage of Dr Jon Kortazar at the University of the Basque Country.

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