• Sweden edition
 
2011 NOBEL PRIZES
Poetry and performance infuse Tranströmer's Nobel lecture

Poetry and performance infuse Tranströmer's Nobel lecture

Published: 07 Dec 2011 18:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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
Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm
Minehunter HMS Koster takes part in the search in the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm

Sweden's armed forces were continuing to search for the cause of apparent "foreign underwater activity" in the Stockholm Archipelago on Monday. But the military denied news agency reports that they had imposed an exclusion zone. READ  

Ebola crisis
Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days
The Uppsala University Hospital. Photo: TT

Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days

UPDATED: A patient has been cleared of any Ebola suspicions at the Uppsala University Hospital. It marks the second suspected case in Sweden in two days. READ  

Perspective: ‘Russian sub’ alert
Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters
The HMS Stockholm patrols Jungfrufjärden in the Stockholm archipelago on Monday morning. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters

With Sweden engaged in its biggest domestic military operation since the Cold War, The Local spoke to Johan Wiktorin, a fellow at the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences, to get insight into what’s going on in the Stockholm archipelago. READ  

My Swedish Career
US woman starts up Swedish toy store online
Leigh Neil and a llama hand puppet. Photo: Private

US woman starts up Swedish toy store online

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet Leigh Neil, who one day came to realize that there was a gap in the Swedish market for children's toys and decided to do something about it. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch
A CB90-class fast assault craft at Kullbäling, a small island in Stockholm's archipelago. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch

The Netherlands on Monday denied a Russian claim that a mystery vessel the Swedish military has been looking for could be Dutch. READ  

Lufthansa Strike
Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike
Grounded Lufthansa planes. Photo: TT

Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike

A strike by pilots at German airline Lufthansa will affect over 20 flights in and out of Sweden over the next two days. READ  

National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Photo: Shutterstock

Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars

A dentist in western Sweden is offering free dental care to his town's Roma begging population. READ  

Business & Money
Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts
Photo: TT

Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts

Swedish electrical appliance maker Electrolux reported its third-quarter net profit soared 42 percent to 933 million kronor ($130 million) thanks to a cost-cutting programme started at the end of last year. READ  

National
School photographer fired for homophobic slur
Photo credit: Shutterstock

School photographer fired for homophobic slur

A photographer at a high school in southern Sweden was sacked after he called one of the students a "fag" during a shoot. READ  

Ebola crisis
Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

A male passenger who landed at Stockholm's Arlanda airport has been transferred to an isolation unit amid fears he may be suffering from the Ebola virus. But a specialist was keen to play down concerns. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
National
Sweden deploys troops over underwater threat
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Blog updates

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 

17 October

Editor’s Blog, Oct 17th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Here’s the whole week of news in just 60 seconds. The most-read story was about a..." READ »

 
 
 
National
A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Lifestyle
Sweden's The Bridge to become 'more Danish'
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
National
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
Society
Interview with Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Gallery
Stefan Löfven through the years
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

990
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
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:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN