Tomas Tranströmer, from the Nobel website.

Getting to know your Nobel Laureate...

Late last night on the Scandinavian side of the world, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the 2011 Prize in Literature to Tomas Tranströmer, making him the first Swede in more than thirty years to win a Nobel. Sweden's best-known poet and a psychologist specializing in juvenile offenders, Tranströmer made his debut on Sweden's literary scene when he was just 23 with with his 1954 collection "17 Poems." Over the next decade, he started to make a name for himself across the Atlantic, befriending poet Robert Bly and falling in with the "Deep Image" school of poetry. A perennial Nobel contender, British betting house Ladbrookes gave Tranströmer 7/1 odds of winning the prize.

Despite being translated into more than fifty languages, Tranströmer remains relatively unknown in the U.S. outside of poetry ciricles and in the offices of New Directions, Graywolf and Ecco, who have published translations of his work. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux is planning to release another of his collections, “The Deleted World,” before Christmas). Bloodaxe Books editor Neil Astley describes Tranströmer “a metaphysical visionary poet,” and Granta editor John Freeman characterized him as “to Sweden what Robert Frost was to America,” but to get a better sense of his work, read excerpts of The Great Enigma on our website, courtesy of New Directions.

Unnamed poet, with beard.

Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, whose work explores "themes of nature, isolation and identity" has won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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