Swedish poet gets Nobel Prize
NEW YORK - Tomas Transtromer, the Swedish poet whose sometimes bleak but powerful work explores themes of nature, isolation, and identity, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature yesterday.
Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Transtromer, saying that “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.’’
Transtromer, 80, was born in Stockholm and has written more than 15 collections of poetry, many of which have been translated into English and 60 other languages.
Neil Astley, the editor of Bloodaxe Books in Britain, called Transtromer “a metaphysical visionary poet.’’
“His poetry is both universal and particular,’’ Astley said. “It’s complex but very direct at the same time. He’s worked for much of his life as a psychologist, and the work is characterized by very strong psychological insight into humanity.’’
Transtromer, whose mother was a schoolteacher and father a journalist, studied literature, history, religion, and psychology at the University of Stockholm, graduating in 1956. He briefly worked as a psychologist at a youth correctional facility.
His following in the United States began to grow in the 1960s. In 1990, Transtromer suffered a stroke that left him mostly unable to speak.
Writing in The Guardian, Paul Batchelor reviewed Transtromer’s “New Collected Poems,’’ released in paperback this year. “He does not present his poems as nuggets of wisdom to be pondered,’’ Batchelor wrote. “Instead, they tend to chart a progression from concrete reality to a heightened state of awareness.’’
The committee noted that it had been many years since a Swede won the prize. The last time it happened was in 1974, when two Swedish authors, Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, shared the prize.
Since 1901, 103 Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded. The prize comes with an honorarium of about $1.5 million.