Tomas Tranströmer: Ten things you never knew about the poet you never knew



Our guide to the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.

 By Marie-Claire Chappet
4:34PM BST 06 Oct 2011
Whilst we would all like to claim awareness of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature recipient, a poll currently underway at reveals that eighty-eight percent of those who logged on to discover this year’s winner had never read his poetry. Should you find yourself within this statistic, here is our handy guide to Tomas Tranströmer.

1. Born in 1931 in Stokholm to a schoolteacher mother and journalist father, Tranströmer spent much of his childhood in an Enid Blyton style blurr of jolly seaside holidays on Runmarö Island (in the Stockholm archipelago.) This became fodder for his nostalgic poems Östersjöar (1974; Baltics, 1975) and his 1993 memoir Minnena ser mig (The Memories See Me).

2. Tranströmer studied literary history, history of religion and psychology at Stockholm University. After graduating he was employed at the Institution for Psychometrics at Stockholm University in 1957 and, between 1960 and 1966, worked as a psychologist at Roxtuna, a youth correctional facility.

3. Despite a previous smattering of poems published in journals, Tranströmer’s literary debut was in 1954 with 17 dikter (17 Poems.) It has been consided one of the most acclaimed literary debuts of that decade.

4. In Sweden he is known as a ‘buzzard poet’ because his poetry views the world from a great height…like a buzzard, apparently.

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2 thoughts on “Tomas Tranströmer: Ten things you never knew about the poet you never knew

  1. Tomas Transtromer is cherished, as a poet, as a man.
    We are his students
    learning to listen, to receive, to perceive
    and to seek the harmony
    before us in the mystery and faith of life beside his shepherding.


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