Tomas Tranströmer: “The Music Says Freedom Exists”

Allegro

After a black day, I play Haydn,

and feel a little warmth in my hands.

The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.

The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.

The sound says that freedom exists

and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

I shove my hands in my haydnpockets

and act like a man who is calm about it all.

I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:

“We do not surrender. But want peace.”

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;

rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house

but every pane of glass is still whole.

Poetry and performance infuse Tranströmer’s Nobel lecture

Published: 7 Dec 11 18:38 CET

The annual Nobel Lecture in Literature, honouring 80-year-old Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, opened in Stockholm on Wednesday with an introduction by Peter Englund, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. 

Whereas many literature laureates prepare special lectures for the occasion, Tranströmer’s lecture featured readings of 13 poems from throughout his career coordinated with musical accompaniment.

 Tranströmer looked on as his work was set to music and sung by the Gustaf Sjöqvist’s Chamber Choir and Uppsala Chamber Soloists, among other performers. “Good poetry is a powerful thing. It can change our picture of the world, making it clearer, sharper, more comprehensible. And forever,” Englund said. 

“We should not be taken in by the understated tone of Tomas Tranströmer’s poetry. Several of the real wonders of our existence are constantly present: Memory, History, Death, Nature – nature not least. But each not as an overwhelming exterior presence, nor as something that assumes life under our gaze. In your work it is the very opposite: ego, the individual, is the prism into which everything is drawn. It gives us a feeling of context, even obligation,” he continued.

“Dear Tomas, it is impossible to feel insignificant after having read your poetry. Neither is it still possible to love the world for the wrong reasons.”

“But what makes great poetry great is not only that it clarifies or reveals something already present in our world, but also that it has the ability to actually widen the boundaries of that world. Therein lies its power,” Englund said.

The first poem recited was “Minnena ser mig” (Memories Look at Me), originally published in 1983:

A June morning, too soon to wake,
too late to fall asleep again.

I must go out – the greenery is dense
with memories, they follow me with their gaze.

They can’t be seen, they merge completely with
the background, true chameleons.

They are so close that I can hear them breathe
although the birdsong here is deafening.

Read full article at The Local

Documentary Captures Tranströmer’s Nobel Day

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Fortunately, Bloodaxe Books, the major British and European publisher of Tranströmer books in English, commissioned a documentary that captured events as they unfolded on October 6, 2011, the day that Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The previous August, British documentary filmmaker Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Tranströmer in his apartment playing the piano. Robin Fulton’s translations appear as subtitles for the Swedish-language readings  Tranströmer recorded prior to a stroke in 1990 which rendered him speechless.  The poems in Swedish  include “The Nightingale in Badelunda,” “Allegro,” “From the Thaw on 1966,” “The Half-Finished Heaven,” “April and Silence,” “From March 1979,” and “Tracks.”

www.bloodaxebooks.com

Harvard Celebrates Tranströmer November 15

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Tuesday, November 15

4-6 p.m. on

Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library

Harvard University

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Harvard’s Scandinavian Program congratulates Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer for winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature and invites the Harvard and surrounding communities to an evening celebrating his work. This event, “Celebrating this Year’s Nobel Prize in Literature: Tranströmer Across Languages,” will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in the Woodberry Poetry Room of Lamont Library. Scandinavian Preceptor Ursula Lindqvist will read Tranströmer’s poems in the original Swedish; visiting scholar and poet Vasilis Papageorgiou of Linneaus University in Växjö, Sweden, will read from his translations of the poet’s work into Greek; award-winning translator and poet Rika Lesser of New York will read from her translations of Tranströmer’s work into English; and Professor Judith Ryan, an expert on the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, will read published German translations by Hans Grössel. This event is hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center’s Seminar on Modern Greek Literature and Culture and co-sponsored by the Center’s “Rethinking Translation” seminar, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Scandinavian Program. (Tranströmer read and spoke about his poetry during a visit to Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room in 1981; click on link to listen.)

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Listen to Tranströmer read in 1981 at Harvard 

Go to Harvard University Scandinavian Studies Department

Bonniers förlag Tranströmer Video

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Produced by Albert Bonniers förlag, Sweden’s oldest (established 1937) and most prestigious publisher (Bonniers is the Swedish publisher of the new Steve Jobs biography) as a Youtube video channel to promote their authors, this brief video captures Tomas Transtromer in images with his grandfather, mother and wife Monica. A brief but eloquent congratulatory video celebrating the Nobel Prize for Tomas Tranströmer.
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