December 12, 2011

VIDEO: Tranströmer receives his Nobel, amid music and lobster


Tomas Tranströmer received this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature in a ceremony in Stockholm on Saturday.

According to The Local, an English-language Swedish news site, “On the menu, which was—as tradition dictates—kept secret until the last moment, lobster was served as the starter and guinea fowl as main course. For dessert, the guests enjoyed a tangerine and white chocolate mousse on a cinnamon biscuit and topped with fresh raspberries.” And, in Sweden at least, “many eyes were aimed at the crown princess Victoria,” who is pregnant.

Earlier in the week, Tranströmer delivered his Nobel lecture. As the result of a 1990 stroke, Tranströmer is paralyzed on one side and cannot speak. Instead of the typical lecture, then, there was a music and poetry “program featuring texts by Tomas Tranströmer in the presence of the Laureate, on Wednesday 7 December 2011 at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.” (He had earlier suggested he would play the piano himself.) A video of the program is available here.

The Local reports that Tranströmer’s wife, Monica, did deliver a short acceptance speech at the Saturday ceremony—what looks to be a poem:

Sick of all who come with words, words, but no language

I traveled to the snow covered island.

The wild has no words.

The unwritten pages spread out in every direction!

I come across the traces of roe deer hoofs in the snow.

Language but no words.

Below is a short film made on the day Tranströmer received news of his prize, in early October.


Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.