Sannel Larson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tomas Tranströmer - The Poet

At the moment I'm in the midst of reading “Selected Poems” by the Swedish poet and the winner of the Nobel Prize, Tomas Tranströmer. I have wanted to read this poet's work for so long, but never had the chance until now.This is one of those books I know, I'll never be finished reading. Not because it's no good, but because this book is endless reading. Page after page provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a fascinating poet. There is so much to discover within the poems of this Swedish writer, and I need to read his works over and over again, to be able to soak up everything he has to offer.Tranströmer takes you through so many emotions just with a few chosen words.There are few writers/poets who have that gift. This book will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as a special place on my nightstand.

Can be purchased at Amazon

Can be purchased at Amazon

The Half-Finished Heaven
Tomas Tranströmer

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas Gösta Tranströmer (Known to the world as author, Tomas Tranströmer) is a Swedish leading and most influential contemporary poet, psychologist and translator. Born 15 April 1931, in Stockholm. Tranströmer is very well known in his homeland Sweden, and is acclaimed as one of the most important Scandinavian writers since the Second World War. His books sell thousands of copies in Sweden. Besides being a brilliant writer, he also has a successful career as a respected psychologist behind him. Tranströmer is also known as a skilled literary translator, entomologist, and classical pianist.

Tomas Tranströmer 

Tomas Tranströmer is recently known for being awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has now become the eight Swedish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he is no stranger to awards. He has already collected the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings, the Petrarch-Preis in Germany, Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, the Oevralids Prize, and the Swedish Award from International Poetry Forum. In 2007, Tomas Tranströmer received a special Lifetime Recognition Award given by the trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, which also awards the annual Griffin Poetry Prize.

Early life
Tranströmer was born to Gösta and Helmy Tranströmer. The father was a journalist and the mother a schoolteacher. At the age of three, the parents divorced and left the young boy with a strong void of a father figure in his life. As a student he received his secondary education at the Södra Latin School in Stockholm, where his interest for poetry started.

Tranströmer spent much of his childhood summers on Runmarö Island, a small Island in the Stockholm archipelago. Those summers and that landscape became the birth for his nostalgic and the aesthetic tradition of Swedish nature poems, Östersjöar (1974 ) Baltics (1975) and his memoir Minnena ser mig (1993 ) (The memories see me).

Tomas Tranströmer artistic talents showed early on in his life. As a child he started to play piano and beside the poetry it became another passion of his. Besides selected poems published in journals, his literary debut took place at the early age of 23. In 1954 this talented young man published his first collection of poems. 17 dikter (17 poems.) It has been considered one of the most acclaimed literary debuts of that decade.

The young man continued his education at Stockholm's University, graduating as a psychologist, with additional studies in literature, religion and history. After he graduated, he started to work in 1957, at the Institution for Psychometric at Stockholm University. In 1960, he was employed as a psychologist at the Roxtuna center for juvenile offenders. He worked there for six years while he continued to write poetry.

In 1958, he married Monica Blach, and has raised two daughters. In 1965, Tranströmer moved with his family to Västerås, one of the oldest cities in Sweden, located on the shore of Lake Mälaren where he spent the rest of his working life.

Birds in human shape.
The apple trees in blossom.
The great enigma.

~Tomas Tranströmer~

Tomas Tranströmer's Poetry
This poet's work is distinguished by a sense of mystery and unseen, underlying the routine of everyday life. He explores the connections between the visible and the invisible, the realms of the conscious and subconscious. A quality which often gives his poems a religious dimension. He has therefore been labeled as a Christian poet. Much of Tranströmer's poetry captures the world from a greater height along with the atmospheric beauty of the long harsh Swedish winters and the Swedish seasons along with its nature.

Tranströmer's most notable works are Klanger och spår (Windows and Stones) and Den stora gåtan (The Great Enigma.)

His poetry has been translated into over 60 languages and critics have held his poetry in high regard for its accessibility in the translations.

His longtime friendship with the American poet and author Robert Bly has made a big impact in the Swedish poet's life. The two poet's works are often read in conjunction. The American poet has also translated and edited some of Tranströmer's work. It was Robert Bly who first introducing his friend's work to the United States in 1960, and their of more 25 years of correspondence has been published in the book 'Air Mail.'

Can be purchased at Amazon

In 1990, a year after the publication of his tenth book of poems, he suffered a debilitating stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body and affected his speech. Despite this, he hasn't let his paralysis stop him. In 1996, he published his collection, Sorgegondolen (Grief Gondola). The poet continues to write, producing over five new works since his stroke, including his memoirs. After his stroke he has remarkably trained himself to play the piano with his left hand. Tranströmer has developed into a proficient pianist and often performs one handed piano concerts in Sweden and throughout Europe.

Kindle Edition- The Great Enigma Can be Purchased at Amazon

An excerpt from "Face to Face

In February living stood still.
The birds flew unwillingly and the soul
chafed against the landscape as a boat
chafes against the pier it lies moored to.

~Tomas Tranströmer~


  1. Hi Sannel--there is much in this piece to love--I do not know this poet and so I am thankful to you for this introduction--



  2. Hello Audrey! Being such a fine poet yourself, I believe you'll enjoy Tranströmer's writing very much.
    Thank you for your time and comment.
    Take care,

  3. This introduction to the infamous Swedish Poet Tomas Transtromer offers so much. His works are not unfamiliar, yet reading along we are welcomed to his life works and achievements, well, nicely in a nutshell.

    Very well presented article of a distinguished poet whose life and works offer encouragement to us poets. The relationship with American Poet Robert Bly shares how we poets online have parallels seeking our works growth, maturity, and essence of creativity. Thank you Sannel for sharing your knowledge and introducing us and many to Tomas Transtromer of Sweden.


  4. Mitch, as always it's a great pleasure to see you. Thank you for your lovely comment, and thank you for sharing Tomas Tranströmer's work.
    I wish you a great day,

  5. Thanks to this review, I've ordered the first book, "Selected Poems". Now I'm anxiously awaiting it's arrival. Thanks for sharing about this great poet from your homeland. It's an interesting write up.

  6. .... what happened to my comment? Lol!

  7. Oh, Sannel, one never knows what to expect from Blogger. But let me repeat the comment I have posted.

    "Each man is a half-open door leading to a room for everyone." So true! Yet, I know people who are closed and locked. And also people wide open on the edge of an abyss :)

    This is an excellent review, encouraging the reader to read more poems by Tomas Tranströmer


Your lovely comments are my reward.
Thank you !