Official Blue House Video from Amsterdam

Performed by Louise Korthals & Tom Jönsthövel (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

“The Blue House,” a prose poem by Tomas Tranströmer

     It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

     It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush,  from the inside.

     On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishades of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..”  In order to escape his destiny in time.

     The house resembles a child’s drawing.  A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

     It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life!  And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

     A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.

“The Blue House” from The Blue House, translated by Göran Malmqvist, published by Thunder City Press. Copyright © 1987 by Göran Malmqvist. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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New Book Prison from Tavern Books

Prison: Nine Haiku from Hällby Youth Prison (1959)

Tomas Tranströmer

Translated from the Swedish by Malena Mörling. Postscript by Jonas Ellerström.

32 pages / hand-sewn pamphlet / $10.00
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-18-5

prisonfullcover

Tomas Tranströmer worked for several years as a psychologist for juvenile delinquents. In 1959 he visited his colleague Åke Nordin, who was also a poet, at the Hällby youth prison in the southern part of Sweden. Later that year he sent Nordin a sequence of nine haiku, giving his impressions of the prison milieu. These poems were rediscovered in 2001 and are presented here in a bilingual edition.

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