Winner of 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature
Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation
Tomas Tranströmer was Sweden’s most important poet of the past fifty years. This book contains all the poems he published, including those from the Bloodaxe Collected Poems of 1987, as well as three later collections, For Living and Dead (1989), The Sad Gondola (1996) and The Great Enigma (2004), and a prose memoir.
In Sweden he was called a 'buzzard poet' because his haunting, visionary poetry shows the world from a height, in a mystic dimension, but brought every detail of the natural world into sharp focus. His poems are often explorations of the borderland between sleep and waking, between the conscious and unconscious states.
Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015) was born in Stockholm, where he grew up, but spent many long summers on the island of Runmarö in the nearby archipelago, evoking that landscape in his early work, which draws on the aesthetic tradition of Swedish nature poetry. His later poetry is more personal, open and relaxed, often reflecting his broad interests: travel, music, painting, archaeology and natural sciences. Many of his poems use compressed description and concentrate on a single distinct image as a catalyst for psychological insight and metaphysical interpretation. This acts as a meeting-point or threshold between conflicting elements or forces: sea and land, man and nature, freedom and control.
Robin Fulton worked with Tomas Tranströmer on each of his collections as they were published over many years, which involved detailed exchanges between translator and poet on the meaning and music of numerous poems. There have been several translations as well as some books of so-called "versions" of Tranströmer's poetry published in English, but Fulton's prize-winning translation is the most authoritative and comprehensive edition of his poetry published anywhere.
'Fulton’s translation from the Swedish is excellent: a poet of exceptional achievement has with this volume been born into English’ – Guardian
'In its delicate hovering between the responsibilities of the social world and the invitations of a world of possibly numinous reality, Tomas Tranströmer's poetry permits us to be happily certain of our own uncertainties… Like the animals in Rilke's first sonnet to Orpheus, they are alive to the god's music which 'makes a temple deep inside their hearing' – Seamus Heaney
Bilingual e-book with audio
The bilingual e-book with audio edition of this book presents Tomas Tranströmer's Swedish texts from Dikter och prosa 1954-2004 (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2011) with Robin Fulton's English translations from the 2011 expanded edition of his New Collected Poems. The audio files are from recordings of readings made by Tranströmer in 1990, from the CD-set Tomas Tranströmer läser 82 dikter ur 10 bocker 1954-1996 (Bonnier Audio, 2006), and from another recording of a reading Tranströmer made of the whole of Östersjöar (Baltics) for Bokbandet, originally released on cassette in 1990 and then as a CD in 1997. In addition, the audio files for poems from Den stora gåtan (The Great Enigma) are from recordings made by Krister Henriksson for the the CD Tomas Tranströmer: Den stora gåtan (Bonnier Audio, 2004).
Tomas Tranströmer, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature
Tomas Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990, which deprived him of most of his speech and left him unable to use his right arm. But he was also an accomplished classical pianist. Unable to speak more than a few words, he could still express himself through music, despite only being able to play left-hand piano pieces. Swedish composers wrote several left-hand piano pieces especially for him to play. This film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley combines contemporary footage of Tranströmer, including his piano playing, with archive film and recordings of earlier readings. The English subtitles to Tranströmer's readings of his poems in this film are Robin Fulton's translations from New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011).
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