Born in Germany in 1922, Sandro Key-Åberg spent the first five years of his life in Italy, living with a family name Gualtieri. Returned to Sweden, Key-Åberg was moved as a foster child from one home to another. He attended the University of Uppsala, where he studied philosophy. Despite the insights the subject allowed him, he claims he had not true talent for the “higher art of cracking philosophical nuts.”
In the early 1950s, he began writing poetry dealing with rural life in Sweden, as the society shifted from poverty to an effective welfare society. Influenced by Finnish-Swedish modernists, Key-Åberg wrote a poetry that pushed against the evils he saw rather than simply celebrating pastoral life, the stronger tradition of Swedish poetry. Among his important works of the 1950s and early 1960s were Vattenträd (1952), Bittergök (Bitter Cuckoo, 1954) and Bildade människor (Educated People, 1965), the latter of which brought him a larger audience. Basically pictographic poems, each in the shape of a human being, the Bildade människor are nearly impossible to translate into English.
In part because of the success of that volume of poetry, his following works seemed uneven in expression, but in his 1972 book, På sin höjd (At Its Peak), he regained his poetry poetry, primarily satirizing aspects of the Swedish welfare state.
Key-Åberg has also written plays, popular songs, and fiction. A book of plays O and an Empty Room was published by Random House in the USA and Calder & Boyars in England.
The author died in 1991.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Vattenträd (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1952); Bittergök (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1954); Dikter 1947-1960 (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1962); Livet, en stor sak (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1963); Dikter (Stockholm: Författarcentrum, 1968); Lovsånger (Göteborg: Författarförlaget, 1970); På sin höjd (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1972); I det darrande ljuset (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1971); Till de sörjande (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1985).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
Selection of poems in Modern Swedish Poetry in Translation, Edited by Gunnar Harding and Anselm Hollo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979).