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Posts Tagged ‘Tomas Transtromer’

Translating Tranströmer: An Interview with Patty Crane

January 26, 2016 | by

In the afterword to Bright Scythe, her new translation of Tomas Tranströmer’s selected poems, Patty Crane tells a fascinating, fatalist story about how she came to translate the late Swedish poet and Nobel Prize recipient. Crane moved with her family to Tumba, Sweden in 2007, after her husband took a job overseas at a paper mill. A year into her relocation, she took a summer residency at Vermont College and began flying back to the United States in order to focus on her writing. One evening she sat next to poet Jean Valentine in a cafeteria, and because Valentine had heard that Crane was living near Stockholm, she asked if Crane might deliver a book to her friend Tomas. A year later, Crane was sitting in Tomas Tranströmer’s home, speaking to him in Swedish, and beginning to translate his poem “The Station” into English. A few more years later—and this isn’t part of that fatalist afterword, but it’s part of our story today—a galley of Bright Scythe arrived at my studio in the Catskills and the doors that seemed to bar me from Tranströmer’s work for so many years were blown off their hinges.

Is it weird for you to think that if even one of these events never took place you and I probably wouldn’t be having this conversation?

It is weird. If it weren’t for a flat bicycle tire, we definitely wouldn’t be having this conversation! That’s how I met my future husband, whose future job brought us to Sweden. I imagine there are events in your own life, maybe even a chance encounter, that led to this exchange we’re having. Turn of events such as the ones I experienced—the move to Sweden, learning the language, re-discovering Tranströmer, my chance encounter with Jean, and everything that flowed from that—seem to me to be less about what happens to you in a given set of circumstances and more about what you make happen. I guess I’m talking about opportunity. A door opens and you enter. And look, a new room with more doors. Here I am in Stockholm, taking Swedish-for-Immigrants classes. Here I am reading Tranströmer in the original Swedish. Here’s an early draft of my translation of “From July ’90” with Tomas’s faint pencil lines under the word pit. And here we are, Danniel, having this conversation. How do I reconcile that? I hope with sufficient gratitude, humility and hard work. Read More »

More Than Just a Haircut, and Other News

April 16, 2015 | by

Audrey Hepburn, the ur-gamine, in the trailer for Roman Holiday.

  • 92Y has released recordings of Tomas Tranströmer reading his poem “Reply to a Letter” in 1989 and Seamus Heaney reading in 1971. “Heaney is in his early thirties on this 1971 recording,” Pura López-Colomé writes in a breathless commentary, “already in full command of his capacities—a Beethoven, more than a Bach … he poet-visionary’s vibrant voice, about to be swallowed by dichotomy, banishes all evil through a salutary tension coil.”
  • Adam Thirlwell on Ulysses and the scandal that continues to surround it: “Joyce happened on a whole new way of writing novels. And the first, most intoxicating invention was the discovery of how comprehensive it was really possible to be. Even sexual fantasies, to choose an extreme example, could suddenly find their form … If transgender fisting occurs earlier in the history of the novel, I would be surprised.”
  • A visual history of the gamine, with her boyish charm, reminds us that she is “more than just a haircut.”
  • On the increasingly gendered use of the exclamation point: “For many women, they are the most common, or neutral, way of ending sentences. Leaving them out indicates negative intentions, while including them simply shows an expected level of enthusiasm.”
  • “My father once split an infinitive, and I did not attend his funeral.” “I got a tattoo of a comma splice and then had it removed.” “I disregard ransom notes if their punctuation is incorrect.” The bona fides of true grammar nerds.

Staff Picks: ‘Desire,’ Tim Tebow

December 9, 2011 | by

Last night I read Sydney Smith’s attack on the Methodists and listened to Desire. It’s been that kind of week. —Lorin Stein

Chuck Klosterman offers one explanation for why Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow is so polarizing: “The crux here, the issue driving this whole ‘Tebow Thing,’ is the matter of faith ... The upside to secular thinking is that—in theory—your skepticism will prove correct. Your rightness might be emotionally unsatisfying, but it confirms a stable understanding of the universe. Sports fans who love statistics fall into this camp. People who reject cognitive dissonance build this camp and find the firewood. But Tebow wrecks all that, because he makes blind faith a viable option. His faith in God, his followers’ faith in him—it all defies modernity. This is why people care so much. He is making people wonder if they should try to believe things they don't actually believe.” —Natalie Jacoby

This weekend I’ll be hoping to see one of the more curious, and surely more fascinating, Nobel acceptance speeches as the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who lost his speech and the use of his right hand after a stroke some twenty years ago, accepts his prize by playing the piano. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

The fruitcake from Holy Spirit Monastery in Georgia—rich with fruit and pecans and liberally doused in peach brandy—has converted many a fruitcake-scoffer. And if you know one of those defiant iconoclasts who already loves it, well, you’ve found your holiday gift for the foreseeable future. (Mine arrived last night and we’ve already eaten half!) —Sadie Stein

In her debut novel, The Faster I Walk The Smaller I Am, Kjersti A. Skomsvold has created a world—through the eyes of a terribly shy old woman who ponders death—that is calm and incredibly strange. —Jessica Calderon

I eagerly started reading a galley of Men in Space, Tom McCarthy’s first novel, which will be published in the US for the first time in February. The first hundred pages contains a very funny letter from a gay Netherlandish art curator on Václav Havel’s reinvention of Czech military costumes: “After two thousand years, Plato’s philosopher king becomes a reality—and the first thing he does is get some fag to spruce up his goons and make them march around more aesthetically. Sometimes I despair of our profession.” —Nicole Rudick

Emma Straub’s piece on the phenomenon of “showrooming” (a word I didn't even know!) was a revelation. —Sadie Stein

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Congratulations to Tomas Tranströmer

October 7, 2011 | by

Tomas Tranströmer.

The Paris Review congratulates Tomas Tranströmer, recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature. A valued contributor to the Review, Tranströmer is a poets’ poet, one whose name has come up in several of our interviews. Jorie Graham and Robert Bly both cite his influence. Translating Tranströmer, Bly told us, “was an amazing experience for me because there was a kind of image appearing in him that I’d never seen before ... You feel yourself, because of the work you’ve done on the image, invaded by the image. You feel that it has become a part of your house like someone who’s moved into your house, and your house is changed then.”

More prosaically, perhaps, Seamus Heaney credited Tranströmer and his wife, Monika, with this excellent-sounding marital advice: “Things will work fine as long as you see each other every six weeks ... Just don’t let more than six weeks go past.”

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