Poet: Tomas Tranströmer

From the Hill-Top by Tomas Tranströmer

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Belgian musician S.A. Barstow, A.K.A. Teun De Voeght, has just released an album of adaptations of Tomas Tranströmer poems as translated by Robin Fulton. This is one of the ten tracks from that album. You can listen to the others on his Bandcamp page.

Tomas Tranströmer

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This new film from Bloodaxe Books, one of Tranströmer’s English-language publishers, incorporates footage of the Nobel Prize announcement and the Tranströmers’ reaction, as well as footage of Tranströmer playing the piano which Pamela Robertson-Pearce had just shot in August. Robin Fulton’s translations appear as subtitles for the Swedish-language readings, which include “The Nightingale in Badelunda,” “Allegro,” “From the Thaw on 1966,” “The Half-Finished Heaven,” “April and Silence,” “From March 1979,” and “Tracks.” This is of course something that the film/video medium is particularly well suited for: it’s wonderful to hear the poet reading in Swedish and know (more or less) what he is saying.

Do read the extensive notes on the Vimeo page. The detail that “Swedish composers have written several left-hand piano pieces especially for him to play” speaks volumes about his status in his homeland. (Hat-tip: Teju Cole on Twitter)

Schubertiana by Tomas Tranströmer

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This is A Galaxy Over There — a lavishly produced film by British director Martin Earle, illustrating excerpts from Tranströmer’s poem “Schubertiana,” as translated by Jöns Mellgren and narrated by Graham Sharpe in a kind of bedtime-stories voice. Though much of it is rather too literal for my taste, it’s hard to find fault with such beautiful filmmaking. The flying household objects in the first part seem in keeping with the spirit of Tranströmer’s “miracle speech,” and I love the scene where the landscape turns into a bed quilt. It’s also hard to see how they could’ve used anything other than a Schubert string quartet for the soundtrack!