• Sweden's news in English
 

Poetry and performance infuse Tranströmer's Nobel lecture

Published: 07 Dec 2011 18:38 GMT+01:00

Tranströmer is the first Swede in 40 years to win the Nobel literature prize.

Whereas many literature laureates prepare special lectures for the occasion, Tranströmer's lecture featured readings of 13 poems from throughout his career coordinated with musical accompaniment.

Tranströmer looked on as his work was set to music and sung by the Gustaf Sjöqvist's Chamber Choir and Uppsala Chamber Soloists, among other performers.

“Good poetry is a powerful thing. It can change our picture of the world, making it clearer, sharper, more comprehensible. And forever,” Englund said.

“We should not be taken in by the understated tone of Tomas Tranströmer’s poetry. Several of the real wonders of our existence are constantly present: Memory, History, Death, Nature – nature not least. But each not as an overwhelming exterior presence, nor as something that assumes life under our gaze. In your work it is the very opposite: ego, the individual, is the prism into which everything is drawn. It gives us a feeling of context, even obligation,” he continued.

“Dear Tomas, it is impossible to feel insignificant after having read your poetry. Neither is it still possible to love the world for the wrong reasons.”

“But what makes great poetry great is not only that it clarifies or reveals something already present in our world, but also that it has the ability to actually widen the boundaries of that world. Therein lies its power,” Englund said.

The first poem recited was “Minnena ser mig” (Memories Look at Me), originally published in 1983:

A June morning, too soon to wake,

too late to fall asleep again.

I must go out – the greenery is dense

with memories, they follow me with their gaze.

They can't be seen, they merge completely with

the background, true chameleons.

They are so close that I can hear them breathe

although the birdsong here is deafening.

Tranströmer began his serious writing career in 1954 when he published "17 dikter" (17 poems).

Predominant in the Swedish poet's work are themes of nature and music and he followed up "17 dikter" with several collections in the 1950s and 1960s, including: "Hemligheter på vägen" (1958; Secrets along the way), "Den halvfärdiga himlen" (1962; The Half-Finished Heaven, 2001) and "Klanger och spår" (1966; Windows & Stones : Selected Poems, 1972).

With "Windows & Stones: Selected Poems", published in English in 1972, he consolidated his standing among critics and other readers as one of the leading poets of his generation, according to his Swedish Academy biography.

A significant amount of his work has been translated into English and other languages including "The Sorrow Gondola" and "New Collected Poems", published in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

In an article on the challenges of translating Tranströmer into English, Robbin Robertson, who translated Tranströmer's forthcoming volume, "The Deleted World", wrote: “The supple rhythms of the original poems are hard to replicate and, equally, the plosive musicality of Swedish words like 'domkyrkoklocklang' lose all their aural resonance when they become a 'peal of cathedral bells.'”

After Tranströmer was announced as the Nobel literature winner at the beginning of October, his books flew off the shelves in the Anglophone world.

The Observer reported that within a few days after the announcement, his book The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems was ranked number 12 on Amazon, a rarity for a poetry book.

Recent Nobel literature laureates include Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa (2010), Romanian-born German author Herta Müller (2009), French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (2008), and British author Doris Lessing (2007).

Tranströmer is the first Swedish writer since Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, who shared the prize in 1974, to claim the Nobel.

The Literature Nobel has been awarded 104 times since 1901, with the exception of six years during WWI and WWII.

He will receive the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature on Saturday at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

A live webcast of the Nobel literature lecture was broadcast from the Swedish Academy. A video of the performance will be available on the Nobel Foundation website below, where the full text of the 13 poems in English and Swedish have also been published.

Charlotte West (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

18:57 December 9, 2011 by BritVik
Personally, poetry as such leaves me cold, having never got much beyond Lewis Carrols's 'You are old, father William, the young man said . . . learned at school back in 1947. To me, the Tranströmer poem quoted here could just as easily have been written as normal text, and been just as logical. So it is with much that is called poetry today, and clearly requires 'a literary mind' or something, to appreciate it. I just don't see it. Am I alone in that??
20:23 December 9, 2011 by canam
You're not "wrong". That's my biggest issue with poetry - it's so personal hence subjective, who can say what is "brilliant" or "rubbish"? One of my biggest pet peeves is bad poetry and those who actually label poetry "bad" ;)
Today's headlines
Bones of missing Swede confirmed in US town
Larkspur Landing, in California, where Elisabeth Martinsson was last seen. Photo: Pedro Xing. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bones of missing Swede confirmed in US town

US coroners have officially identified the skeletal remains of a 21-year-old Swedish student who went missing in California over three decades ago and have relaunched a murder investigation. READ  

Stockholm transport boss resigns over theft
The chief executive of Stockholm's public transport group SL, Anders Lindström, has resigned. Photo: Annika af Klercker/Svenska Dagbladet

Stockholm transport boss resigns over theft

The head of Stockholm's public transport group, SL, has stepped down a fortnight after he was fined by a Hong Kong court for stealing an expensive designer credit card holder in an airport store. READ  

Swedish amber rock was Second World War bomb
The amber rock was in fact a large piece of trotyl, pictured. Photo: Daniel Grohmann

Swedish amber rock was Second World War bomb

A two-kilo rock handed to a museum in southern Sweden by a fisherman who thought it was a piece of amber, has turned out to be a huge Second World War bomb. READ  

Sweden ladies red-faced over infectious 'clap' tag
The Swedish women's national football team. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Sweden ladies red-faced over infectious 'clap' tag

Swedish is a peculiar language, and translating expressions into English can be tricky, as most expats know. The women's national football team got a taste of this on Tuesday, when their international slogan inadvertently encouraged fans to spread gonorrhoea around Sweden. READ  

Does Sweden mark down foreigners' children?
A Swedish paper has compared pupils' national test scores to their individual grades. Photo: Annette Friberg/SCANPIX

Does Sweden mark down foreigners' children?

Children in Sweden with foreign-born parents appear to get lower scores in national exams than from their own class teachers, research by a major Swedish daily newspaper suggests. READ  

Sweden has fewest new prisoners in six decades
Fewer people are being sent to prison in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Persson/SCANPIX

Sweden has fewest new prisoners in six decades

Fewer people were sent to prison in Sweden in 2014 than in any other year since the 1950s, according to new figures from Sweden’s Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården). READ  

Asylum seekers face ‘years’ without Swedish
An SFI class in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Asylum seekers face ‘years’ without Swedish

Sweden’s commitment to give free Swedish classes to all asylum seekers is failing, according to the Red Cross, which says that too many are being forced to wait “several years” before they can attend lessons. READ  

Russia exercise parallels Sweden war simulation
A Russian military long range bomber aircraft. Photo: TT

Russia exercise parallels Sweden war simulation

Russian military forces have launched an unexpected huge military exercise, which is taking place as Sweden continues to host thousands of troops from nine countries for a similar war games simulation. READ  

Opinion
'Swedes need to ditch cakes at coffee time'
A very Swedish coffee break. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Swedes need to ditch cakes at coffee time'

Grabbing a cake and a coffee at least once a day is one of Sweden's best loved traditions and even has a special name: 'fika'. But Swedish medical student Haroon Bayani is calling on Swedish nationals and foreigners alike to stop reaching for sweet treats in the workplace. READ  

Pirate Bay founder to appeal domain ruling
The Swedish state owns two Pirate Bay domain names after a court ruling. Photo: Marc Femenia/SCANPIX

Pirate Bay founder to appeal domain ruling

One of the Swedish Pirate Bay founders will appeal a court ruling to let the state seize two domains used by the controversial file-sharing site, his lawyer has told a Swedish daily. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Avicii confirms royal wedding DJ gig
Gallery
Property of the week: Lugnvik, Östersund
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw through the years
Gallery
People-watching: May 22nd-23rd
Blog updates

24 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Real American men don’t watch Eurovision. New video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQk5dUhGt-w ..." READ »

 

22 May

Editor’s blog, May 22nd (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, The hot topic in Europe this week is whether or not the UK will..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
National
Why are Sweden's beaches among the worst in Europe?
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
National
VIDEO: Can you get your tongue around Sweden's word for 'nurse'?
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
National
Road trippers flock to 'The Bridge'
National
Why are Swedish supermarkets banning paracetamol pills?
Gallery
People watching: April 29th
National
"In many ways Swedes and Americans are kindred spirits"
Politics
Did you know four Swedish party leaders are women?
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,313
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se