Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Back To Literature, Past
A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

On Poetry, Age, and the Nobel

Ageism is on the wane and has been ever since the boomers started coming of…well, of age. The age that really counts. The age of wisdom, reevaluation, freedom. Let’s place that age at sixty-five but it could happen at any age, really.

Still, I was intrigued by the announcement that Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer had won the Nobel. Transtromer is Sweden’s most notable poet and was considered a favorite for the Nobel in his home country, also the home country of the Nobel Prize. Seems he and his readers had felt he was being passed over time and time again. The LA Times addended the words “at last” in their headline on page three of their newspaper. Seems as if Transtromer and literature lovers in Sweden had been waiting…and waiting. He is now eighty!

Even this time, the hoped-for telephone call came late, adding suspense to the event.

At eighty, some couldn’t take that kind of suspense. Further, the stress had to be a little hard on a man who is wheelchair bound and has lost much of his facility for speech because of a stroke.

The Times also noted that the beloved poet’s output was “slim” because he had written poetry while holding down full time employment most of his life. This made me laugh. After all, that’s not so unusual for a poet. We have to eat. Second, today we live so much longer than ever before that we can easily plan a second career (or third) after retirement. Twenty years is a very ample span of time to perfect something new and achieve something with it.

I have to be honest here. I hadn’t heard of Transtromer until I read that he was now a Nobel Prize winner. But I rushed right over to Amazon to order a translation of his 288 page The Great Enigma that includes his complete works including a short memoir he wrote after his stroke in 1990.

That’s one of the things the Nobel does. It brings the world of literature closer together. In fact, it brings the whole world closer together. And this prize in particular makes us aware of the “enigmas” in writing and aging. I wonder if Transtromer addresses that in his enigma collection? I can hardly wait for it to arrive in my mailbox.

Tips and Tidbits

(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote better. She will also include a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)

A Tip for Writers: :

The second edition of my Frugal Book Promoter was just released. The first was a multi award-winner and this edition updates and expands (to 416 pages!) on the first.

A Tip for Readers' Tip:

Go to find several poetry chapbooks for under $6.95 and only $2.99 as e-books. They include the newly released Deeper Into the Pond, a chapbook that celebrates Femininity.

2011 Past Columns


© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.