PEN American Center congratulates Tomas Tranströmer, an active member of Swedish PEN, on his selection to receive the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Born in Stockholm in 1931, Tranströmer is the author of fifteen collections of poetry and a memoir entitled “Memory Looks at Me.” In announcing the award, the Swedish Academy praised him for a body of work that through “condensed, translucent images…gives us fresh access to reality.”

Tranströmer’s poems have been translated into over sixty languages, and Tranströmer himself has championed the translation of other writers’ poetry throughout his career.  A tireless literary advocate, Tranströmer’s commitment to the free exchange of literature brought him to Chad, the Americas and Bhopal, India, which he visited very shortly after the 1984 Union Carbide tragedy.

PEN American Center President Anthony Appiah has sent the following letter to Tomas Tranströmer on behalf of our Board and membership:

Dear Mr. Tranströmer,

I just wanted to send a short note on behalf of the board and members of PEN American Center to tell you how warmly and enthusiastically your colleagues, friends, and many, many admirers in the United States received the news that you are the newest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
We congratulate you. In doing so, we celebrate both the great achievement of your art and the indispensible craft of translation, which you have championed throughout your career and which has been delivering your astonishing work to American readers since Robert Bly’s translations of Twenty Poems was published in the U.S. four decades ago.

That we can add to our enormous admiration a bit of admittedly parochial pride that you are a PEN colleague—and one who in so many ways embodies our organizational principles and values—makes this celebration even sweeter.

With all best wishes from PEN American Center,

Kwame Anthony Appiah

PEN American Center celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1922, our global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. For more information or for an interview with PEN American Center, please contact Larry Siems, Freedom to Write & International Programs Director, at