Thursday, 13 October 2011

Movingpictures 14: Transtromer and the power of art




Another audio moving picture. Can you spare 9.06 minutes to listen to Tomas Transtromer, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature recently? Of course you can. 


It's bitter-sweet to hear this recording, as Tramstromer has been barely able to speak since a stroke more than 20 years ago. On the page this 'buzzard poet' can seem solemn, but the flashes of humour are clearer in his introduction, complimenting Schubert on his post-death career, the success of which was such he became a threat to Communist China.


Bloodaxe's edition of Transtromer's Selected Poems, translated by Robin Fulton, was one of the first of their books I bought, probably around 1988. A smaller selection had been published in the Penguin Modern Poets series, shared with Paavo Havikko. Bloodaxe have now a couple more 'New selected', and he's one of the rare poets where I keep buying them, and keep the old ones. His work has a mixture of stillness and vigour that I love, and he writes about music especially well, as in the poem you can hear above.


Hopefully the Prize is good news for Bloodaxe as well as Transtromer, reward for keeping him in print in English for many years.

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