Swedish Nobel winning poet Tomas Transtroemer dies

Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature, has died at the age of 83, his publishing house Bonniers said on Friday.

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A picture taken on March 31, 2011 shows Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer at his home in Stockholm. Photo: AFP/ Jessica Gow

Transtroemer, who suffered a stroke in 1990 which affected his ability to speak, wrote poems full of imagery that addressed nature, history and death.

He has been called a master of mysticism, who often presented a dream-like consciousness in which time slows to allow for dissection of the relationship between the inner self and the surrounding world.

“Most of Transtroemer’s poetry collections are characterised by economy, concreteness and poignant metaphors. In his latest collections… Transtroemer has shifted towards an even smaller format and a higher degree of concentration,” the Nobel jury said when it honoured him.

The poet, who was also a trained psychologist, passed away on Thursday, according to the Nobel Foundation.

“Saddened to hear of the loss of Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer who passed away yesterday at the age of 83,” the foundation tweeted.

Sweden’s foreign ministry also took to Twitter, writing: “Sad news. Swedish poet and Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtroemer has left us. But his words will never die.”

The winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize of literature Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer poses during a press conference at the entrance of his house in Stockholm on October 6, 2011. Photo: AFP

Transtroemer suggested that the poetic examination of nature offered insights into human identity and its spiritual dimension, which often enters metaphysical territory.

“A human being’s existence does not end where the fingers end,” one Swedish critic said of Transtroemer’s poems, which have been described as “secular prayers”.

Transtroemer’s reputation in the English-speaking world owes much to his friendship with American poet Robert Bly, who has translated much of the Swede’s work into English, one of 60 languages in which his poems have appeared.

Born on April 15, 1931 in Stockholm, Transtroemer was raised alone by his mother after his father left them. He graduated in psychology in 1956 and later worked in an institution for juvenile offenders.

– AFP, Stockholm


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