Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer (Hardcover)
The illuminating letters of the National Book Award winning poet Robert Bly and the Nobel Prize winning poet Tomas Transtromer
One day in spring 1964, the young American poet Robert Bly left his rural farmhouse and drove 150 miles to the University of Minnesota library in Minneapolis to obtain the latest book by the young Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. When Bly returned home that evening with a copy of Transtromer's "The Half-Finished Heaven," he found a letter waiting for him from its author.
With this remarkable coincidence as its beginning, what followed was a vibrant correspondence between two poets who would become essential contributors to global literature. "Airmail" collects more than 290 letters, written from 1964 until 1990, when Transtromer suffered a stroke that has left him partially paralyzed and diminished his capacity to write.
Across their correspondence, the two poets are profoundly engaged with each other and with the larger world: the Vietnam War, European and American elections, and the struggles of affording a life as a writer. "Airmail" also illuminates the work of translation as Bly began to render Transtromer's poetry into English and Transtromer began to translate Bly's poetry into Swedish. Their collaboration quickly turned into a friendship that has lasted fifty years.
Insightful, brilliant, and often funny, "Airmail" provides a rare portrait of two artists who have become integral to each other's particular genius. This publication marks the first time letters by Bly and Transtromer have been made available in the United States.
About the Author
Robert Bly received the 1968 National Book Award in poetry. Tomas Transtromer received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. They have been friends for fifty years. Graywolf Press published "The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Transtromer," selected and translated by Robert Bly."
Praise for Airmail:
"Lusciously readable." —Booklist"[Airmail] is a superior exemplar of what a correspondence can be. . . . Rich in observational detail and charisma." —The New Republic"[A] delectable book. . . . Whether or not one is grateful for the speed and ease of electronic messaging, this marvelous collection, both entertaining and edifying, provides one opportunity to measure what has been lost." —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)"Readers will find amusing, even touching, the attempts of each poet to explain linguistic nuances. . . . The love of language, poetry, family and friends, all on display in eloquent handwritten or typed letters redolent of a bygone era." —Kirkus ReviewsPraise for Tomas Tranströmer and Robert Bly:
“For me, a Nobel for Tranströmer, well deserved, is also a Nobel for his close friend, translator, and collaborator Robert Bly.” —Christopher Benfrey, The New Republic"Tomas Tranströmer, who was awarded [the] Nobel Prize in Literature, has for years now been one of my ports of refuge. . . . I turn to him when I wish to come as close as possible to what cannot be said. . . . My favorite book of the poems is The Half-Finished Heaven, a selection translated by Robert Bly. Bly's language is so clean and direct it seems to bypass language itself." —Teju Cole, The New Yorker"Robert Bly has long been a champion of Tranströmer, and his translations in the 1960s had a great influence on a generation of American poets. [The Half-Finished Heaven translations] . . . bear the mark of Bly's own poetic imagination." —Slate.com