Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015) was one of Sweden’s most universally respected literary exports, his poetry being translated into over 60 different languages and drawing the admiration of international contemporaries (many of whom would become close friends and translators of his work), such as Czesław Miłosz, Joseph Brodsky and Robert Bly. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to great acclaim in 2011.
This book celebrates Tranströmer’s life and work, featuring a carefully considered selection of his poetry, in translations by the award-winning Scottish poet Robin Robertson, and an array of revealing and insightful tributes, appreciations and reminiscences from some of Tomas’s closest literary friends and colleagues, including the Swedish writer and literary historian, Kjell Espmark; the journalist and Chair of the Nobel Committee, Per Wästberg; the literary critic and producer Monica Lauritzen; and the Mexican poet, environmental campaigner and former president of PEN International Homero Aridjis.
Tranströmer’s writing possessed a deceptive simplicity that often saw him considered a ‘poet’s poet’, simultaneously mineral and metaphysical in its concerns, Seamus Heaney described it as permitting us ‘to be happily certain of our own uncertainties’. It was somehow fitting that, in conjunction with the Swedish Embassy, a commemoration of Tomas should take place at Swedenborg House, an event out of which this book was born. That day’s proceedings were closed by Tomas’s widow, Monica, whose warm and moving words also close this volume, and should delight anyone with an interest in Tranströmer’s poetry.
HOMERO ARIDJIS, President of the Swedenborg Society, is the author of over 40 works and is widely regarded as Mexico’s greatest living poet. He has twice served as President of PEN International, and is a former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO.
MONICA TRANSTRÖMER, née Bladh, met Tomas Tranströmer whilst working as a nurse. They married in 1958 and had two daughters. The family lived in Västerås for 35 years before Monica and Tomas moved back to Stockholm in 2000.
KJELL ESPMARK, Professor of the History of Literature at Stockholm University, is a writer, literary historian and member of the Swedish Academy. His work, including novels, poetry and academic studies, has often centred on the idea of ‘translating’ the soul and exploring how the ‘inner’ becomes ‘outer’.
MONICA LAURITZEN is a Swedish literary critic, writer and producer whose work in English has included books on George Meredith and the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Her study of Anne Charlotte Leffler was nominated for Sweden’s 2012 Augustpriset for best non-fiction book.
PER WÄSTBERG is a writer, journalist and member of the Swedish Academy. He was editor of Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. Per was President of PEN International, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Literature and founded the Swedish branch of Amnesty International.
ROBIN ROBERTSON has written five collections of poetry and received a number of accolades, including the Petrarca Preis, the E M Forster Award and all three Forward Prizes. The Deleted World, a book of versions of poems by Tomas Tranströmer, was published in 2006. Sailing the Forest (Picador/Farrar Straus & Giroux) is his selected poems.
ULRIKA FUNERED is Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Political and European Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden, London.
The Swedenborg Archive series
In Celebration of Tomas Transtomer is the seventh in series of Swedenborg archive pocket books. Edited by Stephen McNeilly, and drawing on miscellaneous material from the Swedenborg archives, the aim of the series is to make available in printed form, lectures, interviews and other unique items that would otherwise remain unseen by a broader audience.