Tomas Gösta Tranströmer (born Stockholm, Sweden,15 April 1931) is a Swedish writer, poet and translator, whose poetry has been translated into over 60 languages. Tranströmer is acclaimed as one of the most important European and Scandinavian writers since World War II. Critics have praised Tranströmer’s poems for their accessibility, even in translation; his poems capture the long Swedish winters, the rhythm of the seasons and the palpable, atmospheric beauty of nature. He was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Tomas Tranströmer studied poetry and psychology at the University of Stockholm. His numerous collections of poetry include Windows and Stones (1972), an International Poetry Forum Selection and runner-up for the National Book Award for translation, and The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems (2006, 2011), Robin Fulton’s translation of Tranströmer’s complete body of work. His longstanding friendship with poet Robert Bly, who has also translated and edited some of his work, is documented in Air Mail (2001), a collection of more than 25 years of their correspondence. Tranströmer has also published a memoir, Minnena Ser Mig (Memories Look At Me, 1993).
Tranströmer’s poetry, building on Modernism, Expressionism, and Surrealism, contains powerful imagery concerned with issues of fragmentation and isolation. “He has perfected a particular kind of epiphanic lyric, often in quatrains, in which nature is the active, energizing subject, and the self (if the self is present at all) is the object,” notes critic Katie Peterson in the Boston Review. Critic and poet Tom Sleigh observed, in his “Interview with a Ghost” (2006), that “Tranströmer’s poems imagine the spaces that the deep then inhabits, like ground water gushing up into a newly dug well.”
In addition to the Nobel Prize, his honors include the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, the Aftonbladets Literary Prize, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Oevralids Prize, the Petrarch Prize in Germany, the Swedish Award from International Poetry Forum, and the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize.
Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990, and after a six-year silence published his collection Sorgegondolen (Grief Gondola, 1996); this collection was translated into English by Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl as The Sorrow Gondola (2010). Prior to his stroke, he worked as a psychologist, focusing on the juvenile prison population as well as the disabled and stroke victims, convicts, and drug addicts. He lives with his wife Monica in Stockholm, Sweden.