On Our Shelves Now
Poetry. Bilingual Edition. Translated from the Swedish by Samuel Charters. In 1974 Tomas Transtr mer (winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature) published his groundbreaking collection BALTICS ( stersj ar). In this book-length poem, Transtr mer creates a literal and figurative landscape where his family history becomes the psychological, perhaps even the spiritual, history of the poet himself. Time, geography, a family, an island, a country, the labor of seamanship--these elements, and so many more, show a voice whose multiplicities and conjunctions intertwine to resemble something like the layers of a symphony, a symphony of narrative, of the minimal, the liminal, the image, collisions, and fragments. BALTICS, as its plural name suggests, is an experiment in the conflation of time, a theme that has come to define Transtr mer's career as a poet. In 1975 Samuel Charters published the seminal translation of Baltics with Oyez. Out of print for nearly 40 years, this new edition contains a revised translation, a new afterword and translator's note, and a series of photographs taken by Ann Charters. This definitive, bilingual edition of BALTICS is sure to delight longtime Transtr mer fans and new readers alike.
It is especially moving to me now, with Tomas Transtr mer having just won the Nobel Prize in Literature, to have the generous and far-reaching BALTICS available again, and in such a keen translation. Tomas Transtr mer leaves an indelible mark upon readers everywhere. The gifts of his poems are offered generously and without conditions. I cannot think of another poet who has left more lasting impressions--impressions which never cease, but instead keep creating new spheres of realities and imaginations. He is constantly a poet of nearness. We need Tomas Transtr mer's poetry as much, if not more, in this 21st century as we needed it in the 20th century.--Michael Burkard.