1972 Karl Vennberg, Sweden: Sju ord på tunnelbanan

1972 Karl Vennberg, Sverige: Sju ord på tunnelbanan
© Michael Brannäs

About the author

Karl Vennberg, poet, essayist, translator and critic. Involved in an updated translation of the Bible. Together with Erik Lindegren, Karl Vennberg was the leading representative of the 1940s trend in Swedish literature. In his poems, he has expressed modern man’s desperation in the face of the triumph of violence and dictatorship, but on the personal level also the contrast between the need for faith and the difficulty of accepting it. Karl Vennberg was a left-winger but consistently assumed the position of a third point of view during the Cold War.

About the winning piece

Sju ord på tunnelbanan was published in 1971. By then, Vennberg had been silent as a poet for almost a decade. The new collection of poems presents poetry of a simpler construction than his previous work. Images are no longer as grandiose, the approach more personal. But his advocacy for aggressive sceptical humanism to combat indifference continued. Several poems depict with great precision the zeitgeist, for instance Promenad i Hötorgscity with its melancholy attitude to not least the labour-movement-driven-renovation of Stockholm’s historical centre. “The outcome of the 1970s will depend on how the left-wing handles its betrayal,” Karl Vennberg predicts in another poem, Decennieskifte.

Sju ord på tunnelbanan

Published by: Albert Bonnier's publishing company 

Publication year: 1971

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

Vennberg has held an important place in Nordic poetry, ever since his breakthrough in the 1940s. With “Sju ord på tunnelbanan” he has summarised and defined the post-war doubts and beliefs, which he brought humanly and politically to life in our own 1970s.