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Tomas Tranströmer Wins 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature


Perennial bridesmaid Tomas Tranströmer has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature. The 80-year-old Swedish poet became the eighth European winner over the past 10 years and the first Swede to win the prize since 1974.

Born in 1931, the poet has been tipped as a possible Nobel winner for many years but always missed out. However, Tranströmer has won a host of other literary awards, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and a special Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.

Tranströmer’s first collection of poetry (17 dikter, which translates as Seventeen Poems) was printed in 1954. Some of his work has been translated into English by American poet Robert Bly. The two poets became friends and their correspondence has been published in a book called Air Mail.

Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak, but he continued to write. His last collection, published in 2004, was The Great Enigma, and he has been in retirement since then. When he recently appeared in London, his poetry was read by other people while Tranströmer, an accomplished amateur musician, played the piano. He becomes the ninth Swedish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

His day job was working as a psychologist with young offenders but he’s also a skilled translator.

Tranströmer’s English works include:

20 Poems (translated by Robert Bly)
Windows and Stones translated by May Swenson & Leif Sjoberg
Baltics translated Samuel Charters
Collected Poems translated by Robin Fulton
The Half-Finished Heaven translated by Robert Bly
The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems translated by Robin Fulton
The Sorrow Gondola translated by Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl
The Deleted World translated by Robin Robertson

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Richard Davies

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