May Swenson Other literary forms

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

May Swenson’s forays away from poetry included short fiction, drama, and criticism. A number of her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. A play, The Floor, was produced in New York in 1966 and published a year later. Her best-known critical essay, “The Experience of Poetry in a Scientific Age,” appeared in Poets on Poetry (1966). She also wrote the introduction to the 1962 Collier edition of Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology.

Several books for young people have expanded the audience for Swenson’s poetry. Poems to Solve (1966), More Poems to Solve (1971), and The Complete Poems to Solve (1993) are selections of her riddle poems. For still younger children, there is The Guess and Spell Coloring Book (1976). Many poets owe a heavy debt to their childhoods, and few have discharged that debt more gratefully or delightfully. As a child, Swenson learned from her immigrant parents the language that she would later render into English in Windows and Stones: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer (1972), a translation (with Leif Sjöberg) for which she won the International Poetry Forum Translation Medal. She recorded her own poems on both the Folkways and the Caedmon labels.