Sonnevi, Göran 1939–

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Sonnevi, Göran 1939–

(Goeran Sonnevi)


Born October 3, 1939, in Lund, Sweden; son of Bror and Maj Göransson; married Kerstin Kronvist, August 5, 1961; children: Anna.


Home—Järfälla, Sweden.




Swedish Authors' Union, PEN.


Nordic Prize, Swedish Academy, 2005; Literary Prize, Nordic Council, 2006.


Outfört: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1961.

Abstrakta dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1963.

Ingrepp-modeller, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1965.

Och nu!, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1967.

Göran Sonnevi: On the War; A Bilingual Pamphlet of Poems from the Swedish, Third Coast Press (Madison, WI), 1968.

Det gäller oss: dikter 1959-1968, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1969.

Det måste gå: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1970.

Det oavslutade språket: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1972.

Dikter 1959-1973, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1974.

Det omöjliga: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1975.

Språk; Verktyg; Eld: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1979.

Små klanger; en röst: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1981.

Göran Sonnevi: Poetry in Translation, Swedish Books (Göteborg, Sweden), 1982.

The Economy Spinning Faster and Faster: Poems, Sun (New York, NY), 1982.

Dikter utan ordning, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1983.

Oavslutade dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1987.

Trädet: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1991.

Framför ordens väggar: dikter i översättning 1959-1992, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1992.

A Child Is Not a Knife: Selected Poems, translated and edited by Rika Lesser, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1993.

Mozarts tredje hjärna: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1996.

Klangernas bok: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 1998.

(Editor, with Jan Olov Ullén) Anna Rydstedt: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 2000.

Oceanen: dikter, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 2005.

Dikter i urval av Marie Silkeberg, Bonniers (Stockholm, Sweden), 2008.

Sonnevi's work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Turkish, Finnish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Danish, Romanian, and Italian.


As a boy in Sweden, Göran Sonnevi studied chemistry and jazz, and he later became fascinated by modernistic poetry. His musical and scientific interests were always apparent in his verse, as were his political and social sensibilities. For some readers, these interests were almost too present; as contributor Rika Lesser commented in Translating Poetry: The Double Labyrinth, "If I wanted my fill of linguistics or the natural and physical sciences I could easily pick up the appropriate texts in those fields and read them, as I had in the past."

Along with other modernistic poets, Sonnevi aimed to confront social and moral problems head-on. However, his poems are not always clear. As a contributor to the Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature commented, "Even his recurring images—vortices, mirrors, enclosing circles, white light, transparent skulls, and so on—are presented not as metaphors with literary resonance but like meticulously prepared specimens from which tentative conclusions may be evolved." In his poetry, Sonnevi asks questions about the role of poetry in modern society and about its connection, or lack of connection, to current events.

In the late 1960s, as a result of his anti-Vietnam War poetry, he became widely known and was considered one of Sweden's major lyric poets. In the Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature, Poul Houe summed up Sonnevi's impact by noting, "It is a passionate and controlled language, judgmental and self-critical, abstract and concrete, impossible and yet convincing."



Bede, Jean-Albert, and William B. Edgerton, editors, Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature, 2nd edition, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1980.

Weissport, Daniel, editor, Translating Poetry: The Double Labyrinth, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1989.

Zuck, Virpi, editor, Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature, 3rd edition, Greenwood Press (New York, NY), 1999.