Tomas Tranströmer Wins the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature

Tomas Tranströmer Wins the Nobel Prize

New Directions is thrilled to announce that Tomas Tranströmer, author of The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems, has won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature

Long deserved and long awaited, the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to a magnificent, unforgettable poet. Barbara Epler, Publisher of New Directions, was bowled over this morning: "We are honored to publish all the poems of this wonderful writer, and we have been hoping for this much-deserved recognition for many years — waiting and waiting 'until the light overtook me / and folded up time', to quote the poet himself."

Transtromer_Tomas.jpgA Swedish poet born in Stockholm in 1931, Tomas Tranströmer worked as a psychologist. He has written ten collections of poems that the Nobel Prize Committee praised for their “condensed, translucent images that give us fresh access to reality.” New Directions publishes his complete poems in one volume titled The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems. Tranströmer was first published by New Directions in 1966, in New Directions in Prose & Poetry #16. The best-known Scandinavian poet of the postwar period, and the most widely translated, his other books available in English include Selected Poems 1954-1986; The Half-Finished Heaven; For the Living and the Dead; Night Vision; and Windows and Stars. For many years seriously debilitated by a stroke, Tranströmer continues to write. He is also an avid pianist and has released a recording of classical piano pieces performed with his left hand. Tranströmer has received numerous public recognitions for his poetry including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, Germany’s Petrarch Prize, the Bellman Prize, the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, the August Prize, and a Lifetime Recognition Award in 2007 from The Griffin Trust. 

Sketch in October

The tugboat is freckled with rust. What’s it doing here
       so far inland?
It’s a heavy extinguished lamp in the cold.
But the trees have wild colors: signals to the
       other shore.

As if someone wanted to be fetched.

On my way home I see mushrooms sprouting
       through the grass.
They are fingers, stretching for help, of someone
who has long been sobbing alone down
       in the darkness.
We are the earth’s.

The Great Enigma is the most complete edition of Tranströmer's work in English, collecting all of his book-length collections, individual poems, and his moving autobiography in prose, Memories Look at Me (1993). Translated by Robin Fulton, "Like the sun's shining whisper, Tranströmer's voice is magnified by silence until it reaches every corner of the room." (The New York Sun)

Included in The Great Enigma are: 17 Poems (1954), Secrets on the Way (1958), Prison (1959), The Half-Finished Heaven (1962), Bells and Tracks (1966), Seeing in the Dark (1970), Paths (1973), his “epic,” Baltics (1974), The Truthbarrier (1978), The Wild Market Square (1983), For the Living and the Dead (1989), The Sad Gondola (1996), The Great Enigma (2004) and the prose autobiography, Memories Look at Me (1993).

Translator Robin Fulton is a Scottish poet long resident in Norway. He has translated some thirty books of poetry and prose, most recently works by Henrik Nordbrandt and Olav Hauge. His many books include Selected Poems 1963-1978; Fields of Focus; Coming Down to Earth; and The Way the Words Are Taken: Selected Essays.

For all media inquiries, please contact Tom Roberge at or 212.255.0230



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