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The poetry of Tomas Tranströmer

Published: 06 Oct 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00

Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was on Thursday named the 2011 Nobel Literature Prize laureate, has published a relatively small body of work, often addressing themes of death, history and nature.

Here is an English translation of a short poem entitled "National Insecurity", followed by a brief bibliography:

"The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X

and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

"As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground

so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

"A helmet worn by no one has taken power.

The mother-turtle flees flying under the water."

Source: "New and Collected Poems by Tomas Transtroemer", translated by Robin Fulton. Published in 1997 by Bloodaxe Books and published online by the Poetry Foundation.

Some works by Tomas Tranströmer:

In his native Swedish:

- 1954: "17 dikter" (Seventeen Poems);

- 1962: "Hemligheter på vägen" (The Half-Finished Heaven);

- 1966: "Klanger och spår" (Windows and Stones);

- 1974: "Östersjöar" (Baltics);

- 1996: "Sorgegondolen" (The Sorrow Gondola);

- 2004: "Den stora gåtan" (The Great Enigma).

In English:

- 1970: "Twenty Poems", translated by Robert Bly;

- 1972: "Windows and Stones", translated by May Swenson with Leif Sjöberg;

- 1975: "Baltics", translated by Samuel Charters;

- 2001: "The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer",

chosen and translated by Robert Bly;

- 2006: "The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems", translated by Robin Fulton.

- 2010: "The Sorrow Gondola", translated by Michael McGriff and Mikaela

Grassi.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:19 October 7, 2011 by Freotheric
Another Transtömer title available to English readers is

FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD (1996) [ För levande och döda, 1989] translated by Don Coles with parallel Swedish/English texts.

Ottawa, ON: Buschek Books. ISBN 0-9699904-1-3

Winner of the John Glassco Translation Prize (1996). Canadian poet Don Cole's versions are of the highest quality.

Regards, Fred Louder

Handen
04:06 October 8, 2011 by philster61
Transtromer........ The Rise of Optimum Poetry
09:59 October 8, 2011 by OUIJA
His poetry? Well. He is 80 and before he passes away the prize was granted. Others were better, but...
18:45 October 9, 2011 by Freotheric
Apologies for the missing 'r' -- The kudos + longevity = irrelevance problem is not new. The same complaint was made when Anatole France won the Nobel in 1921 at the age of 77. The difference is that Anatole France was world famous in a way that Tranströmer certainly isn't, though arguably deserves to be. The New York Review of Books, which actually published an appreciative review of the Fulton collected poems 15 years ago, let one its current regulars post an arrogant screed blog entry, saying, in effect, "Never heard of this Swedish poet, but who cares about Academy prizes?..." This coming from the United States, where the Pulitizers and National Book Awards are subject to politicking and commercial promotion that makes the Swedish Academy look like a tower of adamant. So yes, there is something to be gained for this great poet in terms of recognition. One might add that Adonis, the apparent runner-up, does not exactly get top billing in the American book pages.
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