Sweden's Transtromer wins Nobel literature prize

Thu Oct 6, 2011 6:07pm EDT
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By Patrick Lannin and Johan Sennero

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's greatest living poet, Tomas Transtromer, won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday, more than 20 years after a stroke severely limited his speech and movement, but not the power of his writing.

The 80-year-old was honored for a canon of poetry which is infused with metaphors and images from the nature of his native land and which explores wide themes like mortality, reality, solitude and redemption.

News a Swede had won literature's most prestigious award, worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.45 million), for the first time since 1974 was warmly welcomed by a nation whose cultural accomplishments are rarely recognized on the world stage beyond the popularity of crime writers Henning Mankel and Stieg Larsson, or the music of 1970s band Abba.

At a brief news conference, Transtromer was flanked by his wife Monica who answered many of the questions directly.

The poet is partly paralyzed down his right side and has difficulty speaking, but he managed to describe his feeling at winning the award with the words: "Very good, very good."

His wife told reporters: "We were very, very surprised. We have not realized that this is real yet. Like any other Swedish literature lover and pensioner, we were sitting in front of our TV to see who was going to get the prize.

"We were hoping that a poet would get the prize. That he got it was a big bonus."

Transtromer had been a perennial favorite to win the prize and has been nominated every year since 1993.   Continued...

<p>Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer is pictured at his home in Stockholm, in this file photo taken March 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Gow/Scanpix/Files</p>