The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Tua Forsström, Elected to the Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

What wonderful news! What truly superior and delightful news the Swedish Academy has announced! Tua Forsström, an accomplished Finnish, Swedish language poet is the newest elected member to the academy!

Tua Forsström is not a new name to this blog. She has been a perennial writer who I included on my Nobel Speculation lists, and by my own admission is perhaps one of the few writers who I secretly held dear and always hoped would be elevated by the Nobel’s nod. Admittedly, however, I am not a poetry reader. Poetry has and is to me a rather cryptic and hermetic literary format, eschewing the basic principles of communication in favour of veiled imagistic depictions and emotional solicitation. Yet, much like Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska, the works of Tua Forsström are not necessarily hermetic or pompous, nor is there any evidence or inclination of pontification. Much like Wisława Szymborska, Tua Forsström’s poetry is intimate and graceful, cloaked within the mundane and the ordinary at which point the extraordinary is readily revealed. Her language is simple and conversational in tone, often pondering, reflecting and inquiring, which increases the intimacy and inclusive nature of her work. Then on the contrary, this same tenderness expressed to one reader is equally provided to another, and the quiet ruminations quickly become universal. Her topics are equally as profound: the passage of time, death, memory, nature—but they are all relayed and depicted in the same grace and simplicity that has become the hallmark of her renown and following. If poetry is to maintain any relevancy in today’s media saturated world then it should take a leaf from Forsström’s book: cease and desists its grand impersonations and imitations of eras now fallen to the wayside, and embrace honesty, veracity, simplicity, grace and refined elegance, as well as sophistication; save the drudgery of the pomp and poncy for T.S. Eliot’s pretentious predilections; and abandon the pyrotechnical proliferations of the grandiloquent exemplary showcase of one’s own dexterous pen and mind for those who lack the consideration and confidence to be direct and at ease.

Tua Forsström’s newly elected status to the Swedish Academy is bittersweet: with her election and new membership, Forsström will be considered virtually (if not explicitly) out of the running for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Though, it could be considered consolatory in a way. If one cannot achieve and receive the golden nod, then at least one has the opportunity to be a part of the decision and participate in the pronouncement of the new laureate, even if one cannot become one.

It should also be noted, her inclusion to the Swedish Academy is being welcomed with applause and cheers by all—both in Sweden and Finland, but also those who care to observe from around the world. Tua Forsström is also a unique introduction for the Swedish Academy: she is the first Finnish citizen, Swedish language poet to be included in the academy, which in itself is being considered recognition for the Swedish linguistic minority in Finland, but also a well-deserved compliment towards Finnish literature as a whole, who has produced some truly astounding and talented writers, who lay dormant and undiscovered due to linguistic barriers and borders.

Tua Forsström will take Chair No. 18—the chair formally held by the disgraced member and poet, Katarina Frostenson. Forsström will have no formal participation or activities to conduct with the academy until she has been inducted on December 20 of this year, during the Swedish Academy’s annual general assembly.

I would deny it Gentle Reader, I am thrilled by this inclusion, as well as disappointed, but more exhilarated then anything! Tua Forsström is a amazing poet and a sleeping giant of Nordic Literature, she is one of Finland’s foremost poets, and one of the greatest poets currently at work in the Swedish language! I think the inclusion of Tua Forsström will be a hurricane of fresh air (not a breeze or a breathe), as she lives and works outside of Stockholm—not saying she will not take up part time residence within the Swedish capital—but her sovereignty and distance will carry a clear and sober perspective to the academy, who could use a dusting in its self-indulgent superciliousness pomposity.

What wonderful news, Gentle Reader! What beautiful and wonderful news! How overjoying it is to see proper recognition provided to the deserving!

Congratulations Tua Forsström! Though it’s no Nobel, it is slight consolidation! Please bring sober thought to the academy, and don’t stop writing!

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading—

Svenska.yle: "Tua Forsström succeeds Katarina Frostenson in the Swedish Academy - first Finnish-Swedish author elected,"

Hufvudstadsbladet: "Sweden praises Tua Forsström: One of our biggest and finest,"