Tomas Tranströmer in Poland

I have a couple of unforgettable days behind me: The visit of the Nobel Laureate in Literature Tomas Tranströmer to Poland.  

First a recital of his poems in Teatr na Woli in Warsaw last Friday followed by a reception in the Swedish Residence Saturday afternoon.

His poems are now easily available in Poland – through the publishing house A5.

Yesterday I visited the Warsaw book fair in Palace of culture and the presence of Swedish crime fiction is almost overwhelming (especially through the publisher Czarna Owca). But I also visited the stand of A5 and it seems that the new volume by Tomas Tranströmer is attracting a lot of interest.

I was happy to hear that. There is so much to explore.

During the Friday evening recital I caught one important message from the translator Mr Leonard Neuger: You are entitled to have your own Tomas Tranströmer. Your own reading of his poems. Your own understanding. Your own interpretation.

With his words echoing inside I returned to the poem “Romanesque arches” , “Łuki romańskie” in Polish. I read it half a year ago and fell in love with it.

I wasn’t sure that I made the right interpretation but I certainly did my interpretation.  And to me it is a remarkable message about human dignity, but even more about the endless potential within every single human being. And it struck me how relevant – again in my reading – this is for Poland. A country where oppressors finally failed in oppression because they did not catch this simple message: about all that human beings are able to create and achieve and develop.

Read it wherever you can find it – and reflect. I noted that the wife of Tomas Tranströmer, Monica, actually quoted a line from this specific poem in a major interview by Katarzyna  Tubylewicz Saturday two days ago in Gazeta Wyborcza:  “Don’t be ashamed to be a human being – be proud!”

A message relevant both in general but also in this specific situation: How can you be happy in spite of a serious illness like afasi due to a stroke twenty years ago. It is possible and Monica Tranströmer quotes the poem of her husband as a message to follow.  

Illness shouldn’t mean isolation. On the contrary, just some time ago the Nobel Laureate visited London. And before that Riga. This weekend Warsaw and today Kraków.

I will never forget these moments. Experiencing the harmony of the poet himself – and experiencing the magical atmosphere when his wife recited the remarkable poem “Izmir at three o’clock” in Teatr na Woli.

Reading poetry could be challenging and I do it much too seldom, I admit that. But it is rewarding in a way that justifies all the possible efforts needed. That’s one of several lessons from these remarkable days that now lie behind me.



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    The Official Tomas Tranströmer website can be found at:

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