Excerpt from “An Afternoon with Tranströmer in Stockholm”
I mention Century of the Death of The Rose: The Selected Poems of Jorge Carrera Andrade, this gift book to Tomas Tranströmer only in that his readings in world literature were more extensive than one might imagine. In the 1960s, when books from different parts of the world traveled slowly, it might seem strange a Swedish writer would know of a writer writing in Spanish from a distant country like Ecuador. Ecuador is a small country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Galápagos Islands and Pacific Ocean to the west. Remarkably, Tomas found access to the poetry of Jorge Carrera Andrade in an anthology, Modern European Poetry, edited by Willis Barnstone (New York: Bantam Books, 1966), which was available at that time in Europe. Carrera Andrade had already lived on and off for decades in France as Chancellor of the Ecuadorian consulate in Marseilles, Consul General in Le Havre, Ambassador to France in Paris, and principal contributor to management at UNESCO, also in Paris. With a French wife and fluent in French, as well as a translator of French poet Pierre Reverdy into Spanish for book publication, Carrera Andrade was seen by some in French and global literary circles as more European than Latin American. Carrera Andrade in Europe was Ecuadorian and remained so throughout his life in every country he traveled to in service to his native country as a diplomat and writer.
Steven Ford Brown
Jorge Carrera Andrade (1903-1978), Ecuadorian poet, historian, author, former Ambassador and Official Representative and member to The United Nations in New York City, is recognized with Jorge Luis Borges, Vicente Huidobro, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, Octavio Paz and César Vallejo, as among the first South American posts to rise to international prominence in the Twentieth Century.
🔗 Link to:
The Official Jorge Carrera Andrade Website
Interview with Sarah Danius of the Swedish Academy begins at 7:52 minutes
The Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011. His books sell thousands of copies in Sweden, and his poetry has been translated into 60 languages. Born in 1931, grew up in Stockholm, but spent many long summers on the island of Runmarö in the nearby archipelago. Swedish nature and landscape have inspired much of his poetry, especially Runmarö, the Baltic coast and the country’s lakes and forests. But Tomas Tranströmer is as much a poet of humanity as he is of nature. He worked as a psychologist for most of his life. He has been married for over fifty years to Monica Tranströmer, who became his voice to the world after he suffered a stroke in 1990. Since then he has only published two poetry collections and a short memoir. The stroke deprived him of most of his speech and left him unable to use his right arm. But Tomas Tranströmer is also an accomplished classical pianist. Unable to speak more than a few words, he can still express himself through music, despite only being able to play left-hand piano pieces. Swedish composers have written 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 his readings. In the archive recordings, he reads the poems in Swedish, and the English translations are by Robin Fulton, from the UK edition New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), and the US edition The Great Enigma: New and Collected Poems (New Directions, 2006); these two books have the same content but have been published for separate readerships. The two left-hand piano pieces Tranströmer plays in the film are by Fibich and Mompou. Swedish poems © Tomas Tranströmer from Dikter och Prosa 1954-2004 (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2011). For more information see http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/
Ross Shideler, UCLA professor of Comparative and Scandinavian literature, discusses the Nobel Prize winner’s work
No earth tremor, but a skyquake. Turner could have painted it, secured by ropes. A single mitten whirled past right now, several miles from its hand. Facing the storm I am heading for that house on the other side of the field. I flutter in the hurricane. I am being x-rayed, my skeleton hands in its application for discharge. Panic grows while I tack about, I am wrecked, I am wrecked and drown on dry land! How heavy it is, all that I suddenly have to carry, how heavy it is for the butterfly to tow a barge! There at last. A final bout of wrestling with the door. And now inside. Behind the huge window-pane. What a strange and magnificent invention glass is—to be close without being stricken. . . Outside a horde of transparent splinters of gigantic shapes rush across the lava plain. But I flutter no more. I sit behind the glass, still, my own portrait.
“Icelandic Hurricane” by Tomas Tranströmer from The Blue House, translated from the Swedish by Göran Malmqvist, published by Thunder City Press. Copyright © 1987 by Göran Malmqvist. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.