July 22, 2011

Tobias Berggren

Tobias Berggren [Sweden]

Tobias Berggren was born into a Stockholm family in 1940, whose members had been prominent in Swedish politics. Berggren's grandfather, Ynge Larsson, had been Vice Mayor of Stockholm, and a member of parliament.

Berggren worked as a critic for Bonniers Litterära Magasin (BLM) and the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, arguing against the demand in poetry for "simplicity" and "accessibility,"which he felt had watered down recent Swedish poetry. As Gunnar Harding and Anselm Hollo have written of him in their anthology Modern Swedish Poetry:

In Berggren's view, this trend [towards the simple] does not rep-
resent anything new, but is merely a relapse into a simplistic, pre-
modernistic consciousness. Since reality no longer is simple, it
cannot be the function of art to have people standing around
mouthing platitudes, even if that is what they do in "real life."

Rooting his poetry in academic modernism, Berggren works to transform language: "The day follows upon night, the world, upon words."

His first collection was Det nödvändiga är inte klart (The Necessary Is Not Clear) of 1969, and over the years since he has published ten further books of poetry, as well as essays and translations, focusing particularly on the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Among his several awards are the Aftonbladet's Literary Prize (1973), the Bellman Prize (1983), and The Nios Prize (1990).


Det nödvändiga är inte klart (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1969); Den främmande tryggheten (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1971); Namn och grus (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1973); Resor i din tystnad : dikter 1972-75(Stockholm: Bonnier, 1976); Gemensam vårdnad (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1977); Bergsmusik: rytmisk prosa, vers och vissioner (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1978); Threnos (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1981); 24 romantiska etyder (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1987); Rymden ikväll, all stjärnorna (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1991); Fält och legender (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1997); Intifada (Stockholm: Bonnier, 2008)


selections in Gunnar Harding and Anselm Hollo, eds. Modern Swedish Poetry in Translation (Minneapolis: Univrersity of Minnesota Press, 1979)

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