All in the translation
It feels like I’ve spent all last year reading Tomas Transtromer’s poetry – which is wonderful, in the sense of full of wonder and in its more conventional meaning.
Transtromer, who is Swedish, is a recent winner of the Nobel prize for his work and writes in Swedish, so for English speakers it’s a matter of reading him in translation.
I’ve read several translations – Robert Bly, Robert Hass’s anthology of translations by different people and Robin Fulton. It’s amazing the way the work changes in the hands of different translators, almost to the point where the translator becomes part of the writing themselves (perhaps the way a musician becomes essential to the performance of a song or composition).
I’ve settled on Robin Fulton’s The Great Engima: New and Collected Poems as my favourite.
I was fascinated to read (courtesy of The Page) a New York times article by David Orr about Transtromer and the effect of translation. It’s pretty interesting and a good introduction to the work.