Tomas Transtromer, Nobel laureate, dies at 83

Tomas Transtromer

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, died March 26 at 83.

(Maja Suslin / EPA)

Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer has died at age 83. According to the Nobel Prize’s Twitter account, Transtromer died Thursday.

Long one of Sweden’s most celebrated poets, Transtromer was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011, when he was 80. He was known for writing spare, intense prose that featured the landscape of the Stockholm archipelago; the Nobel committee’s citation explains, “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

The award brought Transtromer to the attention of American readers. His works can be found in two main collections, “The Great Enigma,” a slender omnibus from New Directions, and a side-by-side Swedish-English poetry collection from Green Integer, “The Sorrow Gondola,” written after the poet’s debilitating stroke in 1990. 

Transtromer was born April 15, 1931, in Stockholm and raised by a single mother, after his father left the family. He earned a degree in psychology in the 1950s.


For many years, Transtromer had a day job: He was a psychologist who worked with troubled youth and drug addicts. He was also a piano player; something he considered doing professionally, his wife, Monica, once explained, but “the poetry took over.”

His many awards, in addition to the Nobel Prize, include the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, Aftonbladets Literary Prize, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Oevralids Prize, the Petrach Prize in Germany, and the Swedish Award from the International Poetry Forum.

He is survived by his wife, Monica, and daughters Emma and Paula.

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