I’m sure no one in the bookworld has missed that the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature was announced on Thursday. Here in Sweden the fact that the winner is Tomas Tranströmer has been greeted with a great deal of joy. The last Swedish winners, Harry Martinson and Eyvind Johnson were seen as controversial as they were members of the Swedish Academy and were at the time fairly unknown outside of Sweden. Tranströmer on the other hand is well known* and much loved across the world. Although we admittedly have a lot of Nobel Laureates in literature if one sees to our population, it has been a while since we had one and people here are comparing it to Sweden winning a gold medal in football (soccer) one of our “national sports”. It is THAT big here.
I have to admit that I don’t know him well. I know I’ve read some of his poetry at one time or another but I don’t read a whole lot of Swedish poetry and it has been over 10 years since I studied it at school. That said what I have read in the papers over the past few days has had me go out and order his collected works of poetry and the latest biography, which came out earlier this year. I tried buying them in my local indie book shop but by the time I made it there at about 3:30 (on my way back to work from the bus station after a trip with my seniors) they had sold out of pretty much everything they had by him, plus nothing was orderable. The collected works is being reprinted as it is gone at the publishers. This means that the poems I have read over the last few days have really captured me. My favourite so far is one called “Ensamheten” (Loneliness). In the first part it talks about a car accident on a cold February night. As someone who has been in car accidents in winter (although not in February and not at night) I could definitely see and feel the poem. And I am looking forward to reading more of him once I get my new books.
Have you read any of Tranströmers poetry?
(*within the world of poetry lovers at least)