Once there was a shock that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail. It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy. It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires. One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun through brush where a few leaves hang on. They resemble pages torn from old telephone
On April 15, 1931, Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He attended the University of Stockholm, where he studied psychology and poetry.
One of Sweden's most important poets, Tranströmer sold thousands of volumes in his native country, and his work has been translated into more than fifty languages. His books of poetry in English include The Deleted World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011); New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011); The Sorrow Gondola (Green Integer, 2010); New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011); The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems (New Directions, 2003); The Half-Finished Heaven (2001); New Collected Poems (1997); For the Living and the Dead (1995); Baltics (1974); Paths (1973); Windows and Stones (1972), an International Poetry Forum Selection and a runner-up for the National Book Award for translation; The Half-Finished Sky (1962); and Seventeen Poems (1954).
In his later years, his work gradually shifted from the traditional and ambitious nature poetry written in his early twenties toward a darker, personal, and more open verse. His work barrels into the void, striving to understand and grapple with the unknowable, searching for transcendence.
"I am the place / where creation is working itself out," he declares in his poem "The Outpost," about which he wrote "This kind of religious idea recurs here and there in my poems of late, that I see a kind of meaning in being present, in using reality, in experiencing it, in making something of it."
Tranströmer was the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature. His other honors and awards include the Aftonbladets Literary Prize, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Oevralids Prize, the Petrach Prize in Germany, and the Swedish Award from International Poetry Forum.
He read at many American universities, often with poet and friend Robert Bly. Tranströmer was a respected psychologist, and worked at a juvenile prison, and with the disabled, convicts, and drug addicts. He lived in Vasteras, west of Stockholm. He died on March 26, 2015, at the age of eighty-three.