“Kyrie” by Tomas Tranströmer

Created and produced byAmrendra Pandey in Bengaluru, India

Amrendra Pandey is a research scholar and PhD in Molecular Physics at Raman Research Institute, India.

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At times my life suddenly opens its eyes in the dark.
A feeling of masses of people pushing blindly
through the streets, excitedly, toward some miracle,
while I remain here and no one sees me.

It is like the child who falls asleep in terror
listening to the heavy thumps of his heart.
For a long, long time till morning puts his light in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

Tomas Tranströmer

“Kyrie” from The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly, Graywolf Press; 2001. Copyright © 2001 by Robert Bly.



New Book Prison from Tavern Books

Prison: Nine Haiku from Hällby Youth Prison (1959)

Tomas Tranströmer

Translated from the Swedish by Malena Mörling. Postscript by Jonas Ellerström.

32 pages / hand-sewn pamphlet / $10.00
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-18-5


Tomas Tranströmer worked for several years as a psychologist for juvenile delinquents. In 1959 he visited his colleague Åke Nordin, who was also a poet, at the Hällby youth prison in the southern part of Sweden. Later that year he sent Nordin a sequence of nine haiku, giving his impressions of the prison milieu. These poems were rediscovered in 2001 and are presented here in a bilingual edition.

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Tomas Transtromer, Nobel-Winning Poet, Dies at 83

Transtromer Passes


Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011 for a body of work known for shrewd metaphors couched in deceptively spare language, crystalline descriptions of natural beauty and explorations of the mysteries of identity and creativity, died on Thursday in Stockholm. He was 83.

The Swedish publisher Albert Bonniers announced the death without giving a cause. In 1990, at age 59, Mr. Transtromer had a stroke that severely curtailed his ability to speak; he also lost the use of his right arm.

With a pared-down style and brusque, forthright diction, Mr. Transtromer (pronounced TRAWN-stroh-mur) wrote in accessible language, though often in the service of ideas that were diaphanous and not easy to parse; he could be precisely observant one moment and veer toward surrealism the next.

Go to The New York Times


Nobel Prize: A physicist and a poet expand our universe

The year’s Nobel Prize winners in physics and literature both change the way we think

October 16, 2011|By Michael Corbin

I told some friends that Tomas Tranströmer had won the Nobel Prize. Some responded, “Who?” and others said that it was cool that someone in Baltimore had won the Nobel.

This latter group, of course, had heard the local hubbub and were thinking about Adam Riess at the Johns Hopkins University, who (along with two other physicists) was awarded the Nobel in physics for showing that the universe is still expanding. Mr. Riess was able to infer this by observing close by and further away supernovae. And contrary to the expectation of universe observers who thought that the cosmos would be slowing down by now, so long after the big bang, Mr. Riess showed that the expansion of the universe is actually speeding up. Who knew?

The Nobel Prize confers a strange kind of celebrity, particularly in America, where celebrity attainment and study are an exact, natural science. Something is a little mushy in the criteria for that Nobel Prize award though, from the vantage point of America. They even gave one to Barack Obama, didn’t they? I think a lot of people had the same hope for the Obama presidency: bending the universe toward justice.

I started reading Mr. Tranströmer about 25 years ago. The publisher New Directions had brought him out in translation from his native Swedish, and I had found a dusty copy in a used book shop in Washington, D.C., when I thought poetry was the something that could effect the expansion or contraction of the universe. His poems seemed to me like a truth about our time, like Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” but allowing for something more beautiful, pleasurable, possible, while we wait.

Read the full article at The Baltimore Sun

Ecco to reissue two volumes of Nobel winner Tranströmer’s poetry

October 07, 2011

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

Nothing like the Nobel Prize for Literature to boast a poet’s reputation — and readership.

A day after Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer was awarded the 2011 prize, one of his American publishers, Ecco, a division of HarperCollins, announced it’s reissuing two volumes of his poetry: For The Living and the Dead: A Memoir and Poems, and Selected Poems, edited by Robert Hass.

Both titles will be reissued in paperback next week, with e-books to follow.

Tranströmer’s other English translations include The Sorrow Gondola (published by Green Integer), The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems (New Directions), and The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer (Graywolf).

Tranströmer suffered a stroke two decades ago, which affected his ability to speak, though he has continued to write.

Ecco Publisher Daniel Halpern, who first published Tranströmer in 1987, said in a statement, “So much poetry, not only in this country but everywhere, too often feels small and exclusively confessional – it doesn’t look outward, it looks back at itself. But there are some poets who write a true international poetry and Tomas is among them. It’s his particular sensibility that runs through the poems that’s so deeply seductive. What a wonderful writer he is – lyrical and open, curious and intelligent.”

Hass, a former U.S. poet laureate who edited Tranströmer’s Selected Poems, writes of him, “Perhaps more than any other living poet, Tranströmer conveys a sense of what it is to be a private citizen anywhere in the second half of the twentieth century.”

After Nobel Prize, the Race to Publish More Tomas Tranströmer

 By Emily Witt 10/10 3:34pm

When Barbara Epler received the news last week that Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer had won the Nobel Prize for literature, she had one reaction: “I said, ‘Call the printers!’” she recalled.

Ms. Epler is the president of New Directions, publisher of Mr. Tranströmer’s The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems, an anthology translated by the Scottish poet Robin Fulton. For New Directions, Mr. Tranströmer’s win was big news — by Friday its book was ranked #12 on Amazon, a rarity for the independent publisher, which is known for its commitment to publishing difficult poetry and literature in translation.

“For a poetry book to be number 12 that just kills me,” said Ms. Epler, adding that while Mr. Tranströmer “sells perfectly well in our terms” the spike in sales last week was positively “stratospheric.” In response, New Directions quickly arranged to have an additional 1,500 copies of The Great Enigma printed for shipment by tomorrow, forcing its short run publisher to work through the Columbus Day holiday. Another 8,000 copies will follow in a few weeks.

In Minneapolis, Graywolf Press, the independent publisher of The Half-finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer, selected and translated by the poet Robert Bly, celebrated the award with scones and muffins. Then they went to work. “We were all pretty busy actually,” said Graywolf publicity director Erin Kottke. “We didn’t have time to really revel in it because we were scrambling to figure out what the next step was.” Graywolf’s reprint is now also underway: 10,000 copies with a Nobel Prize sticker on the cover for release in three weeks and a planned second printing with an amended cover to follow.

Read the full article at The New York Observer

A victory for poetry

  • Published 02:48 11.10.11
  • Latest update 02:48 11.10.11

The decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is a declaration of faith in poetry’s power to transcend borders.

By Eli Eliahu

“And I take the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature, when it is given to a poet, to be primarily an assertion of the supra-national value of poetry. To make that affirmation, it is necessary from time to time to designate a poet: and I stand before you, not on my own merits, but as a symbol, for a time, of the significance of poetry.”

It has been over 60 years since T.S. Eliot said the above in his speech at the Nobel Prize banquet. Since then, a few other poets have won the prize, including Wislawa Szymborska and Seamus Heaney, and now once again a poet has been awarded the prize, this time the Swedish poet, Tomas Transtromer. It seems that Eliot’s remarks are more relevant than ever, and the decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to a poet indeed is not just an award to the poet himself, but also an award to the significance of poetry and a renewed declaration of faith in its power to transcend borders and have an impact even in times when the value of things is measured solely by the number of people interested in them.

The name of Transtromer, who was born in 1931, has been mentioned as a candidate for several years now, but his win is still seen as a surprise. He is not exactly apolitical, but his poetry does not represent clear-cut non-conformism the way the works of other Nobel laureates did, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Joseph Brodsky. Nor is the selection perceived as representing the people’s voice, the way works of Seamus Heaney or Derek Walcott are. Not everyone therefore deems Transtromer as a worthy choice. The Telegraph‘s Philip Hensher noted, for example, “that time has shown every single Swedish winner of the prize to be ‘a little phenomenon of no interest’ outside their own country.”

Read the full article at Haaretz.com