Chickweed Wintergreen: Selected Poems

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Bloodaxe, 2010 - Poetry - 192 pages
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Nobel Prize in Literature, 1974 Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation Harry Martinson (1904-78) sailed the oceans from 1920 to 1927 as an escape from an unhappy childhood in rural southwest Sweden. Returning to his native tracts, he devoted himself to writing and eventually became one of the best-known authors of his time, his books appealing widely both to academics and to the general reader. His election to the Swedish Academy in 1949 was seen as a gesture towards a generation of more or less self-educated working-class writers, and he shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature with novelist Eyvind Johnson. Sections of the Swedish press responded with such vehemence to the way Academicians had rewarded two of their own that Martinson vowed never to publish again, and his last years were darkened by despair and depression as his view of the world became bleaker. His books reflect his upbringing, his travels and his interest in science and social questions. His poetry has many strands but the one most often admired is that which combines close scrutiny of the small events of the natural world with an intense awareness of cosmic distances in time and space. While his prose books have reached a wide readership in several languages, Martinson's poems have appeared only sporadically in English. Robin Fulton's translations provide the first substantial selection of Harry Martinson's poetry for English-language readers. His edition has an introductory essay by Staffan Söderblom.

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About the author (2010)

Harry Martinson was born in Jämshög, Sweden on May 6, 1904. When he was six his father died and then his mother immigrated to America, leaving him and his sisters as parish orphans, fostered out to various families. He ran away from his foster parents and went to sea from 1920 to 1927. After returning to Sweden, ill with tuberculosis and destitute, he came under the care of his future wife, Moa Swartz, who became a well-known author in her own right. His first book of poetry, Spökskepp (Ghost Ship), was published in 1929. He also wrote a collection of poetry entitled Passad (Trade Wind) and an epic poem about space travel entitled Aniara. His novels include Nässlorna Blomma (Flowering Nettle), Vägen Ut (The Way Out), Kap Farväl (Cape Farewell), and Vägen till Klockrike (The Road). He was elected to the Swedish Academy in 1949, a notable achievement for a writer with no formal education. He shared the 1974 Nobel Prize for Literature with novelist Eyvind Johnson. Their honors were considered controversial, since they were close friends and both had been long-time members of the Swedish Academy. He was offended by the insinuation of corruption and withdrew into depression. He committed suicide on February 11, 1978.

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