nobel 2011

Literature Prize to Tomas Tranströmer

6:31 min

Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has been announced as the 2011 Nobel laureate in Literature.

Explaining why Tranströmer was chosen this year, the Swedish Academy's secretary, Peter Englund, says that "through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."

The 80-year-old is best known for his breakthrough work 17 dikter (17 poems), written when he was a young man in 1954. Critics have praised his use of metaphor and economy of words.

"He has a fantastic ability with metaphors, but not just in a sort of technical sense. But he has the ability to find metaphors, details, that can make an entire situation or a thing or a feeling very very understandable," Englund tells Radio Sweden.

Englund describes how Tranströmer treats the image of an oak tree in mid-winter in one of his poems, saying, "the greenery will erupt from the bottles of the oak."

"It's a wonderful image, how the greenery will pop out, like from champagne – from a bottle," says Englund, adding that it has made an indelible impression on the way he looks at winter landscapes.

While not known to be a prolific writer, Tranströmer's work has been translated into 60 languages, including English; one collection entitled A Half-Finished Heaven.

Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990, which has made him largely unable to speak. However, he has continued to publish work.

It is nearly 40 years since a Swede has won this prize.