Authors: Anselm Hollo

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Finnish-born American poet and translator

Author Works


Sateiden Välillä, 1956

Loverman, 1961

St. Texts and Finnpoems, 1961

We Just Wanted to Tell You, 1963 (with David Ball)

And What Else Is New, 1963

History, 1963

Trobar: Löytää, 1964

And It Is a Song, 1965

Faces and Forms, 1965

Here We Go, 1965

The Claim, 1966

The Going-on Poem, 1966

Isadora, and Other Poems, 1967

Poems = Runoja, 1967

The Coherences, 1968

Tumbleweed, 1968

The Man in the Treetop Hat, 1968

Waiting for a Beautiful Bather: Ten Poems, 1969

Maya: Works, 1959-1969, 1970

Message, 1970

Gee Apollinaire, 1970

Sensation 27, 1972

Alembic, 1972

Smoke Writing, 1973

Spring Cleaning Greens: From Notebooks, 1967-1973, 1973

Some Worlds, 1974

Black Book 1, 1975

Sojourner Microcosms: New and Selected Poems, 1959-1977, 1977

Heavy Jars, 1977

Lingering Tangos, 1977

Lunch in Fur, 1978

Curious Data, 1978

With Ruth in Mind, 1979

My Name Is Rod Magnet, 1979

Finite Continued: New Poems, 1977-1980, 1980

No Complaints, 1983

Pick Up the House: New and Selected Poems, 1986

Outlying Districts, 1990

Near Miss Haiku: Praises, Laments, Aphorisms, Reports, 1990

Space Baltic, 1991

Blue Ceiling, 1992

High Beam, 1993

West Is Left on the Map, 1993

Survival Dancing, 1995

Corvus, 1995

AHOE (And How on Earth), 1997

Rue Wilson Monday, 2000

Notes on the Attractions and Possibilities of Existence, 2001

So the Ants Made It to the Cat Food, 2001

Long Fiction Translations:

A Man Survives, 1963 (of Vladimir Maximov)

491, 1966 (of Lars Gorling)

Querelle, 1975 (of Jean Genet)

Emmanuelle II, 1975 (of Emmanuelle Arsan)

Beautiful Days, 1976 (of Franz Innerhofer)

Small Change, 1977 (of François Truffaut)

Apprenticeship on the Couch, 1977 (of Tillman Moser)

The Railroad Journey, 1981 (of Wolfgang Schivelbusch)

The Road to Ein Harod, 1988 (of Amos Kenan)

The Whales in Lake Tanganyika, 1989 (of Lennart Hagerfors)

The Czar’s Madman, 1993 (of Jaan Kross)

And Still Drink More!, 1994 (of Jakob Arjouni)

Professor Martens’ Departure, 1995 (of Jaan Kross)

Happy Birthday, Turk!, 1996 (of Jakob Arjouni)

One Death to Die: A Kayankaya Mystery, 1997 (of Jakob Arjouni)

Poetry Translations:

Red Cats: Number Sixteen, 1962 (of Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, and Semyon Kirsanov)

Some Poems by Paul Klee, 1962

Selected Poems, 1964 (of Andrei Voznesensky)

Five Feet Two, 1965 (of Rolf-Gunter Dienst)

Word from the North: New Poetry from Finland, 1965

The Trees of Vietnam, 1966 (of Matti Rossi)

Selected Poems, 1968 (of Paavo Haavikko)

New Poetry from Sweden, 1979 (with Gunnar Harding)

Poems, 1958-1980, 1983 (of Pentti Saarikoski)

A Purchase in the White Botanica: The Collected Poetry of Piero Heliczer, 2001

Drama Translation:

Jungle of Cities, 1966 (of Bertolt Brecht)

Nonfiction Translations:

The Erotic Minorities, 1966 (of Lars Ullerstam)

Women’s Rites, 1987 (of Jeanne de Berg)

Franz Werfel: A Life in Prague, Vienna, and Hollywood, 1990 (of Peter Stephan Jungk)

Sarajevo: A War Journal, 1993 (of Zlatko Dizdarevic)

Starfall: A Triptych, 1997 (of Lars Kleberg)


Born and raised in Finland, Anselm Paul Alexis Hollo made his first trip to the United States during his high school years, when he attended a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school on an exchange scholarship during his senior year. From 1952 to 1956, he attended Helsinki University and University of Tübingen, Germany. Early employment during the same period included acting as commercial correspondent for a Finnish export lumber firm, as interpreter for the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, and as a literary journalist. Besides his time in Austria, he also spent time abroad in Spain.{$I[A]Hollo, Anselm}{$I[geo]FINLAND;Hollo, Anselm}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Hollo, Anselm}{$I[tim]1934;Hollo, Anselm}

By the mid-1950’s Hollo was already reviewing books and writing translations for both German and Finnish periodicals. His first collection of poems, Sateiden Välillä (rain pause), was published in 1956 in Helsinki. While in Germany, Hollo also served as private secretary to his maternal grandfather, chemist Paul Walden of University of Tübingen. In 1957 Hollo married Josephine Wirkus, with whom he would have one son and two daughters.

In 1958 he accepted employment with the European services division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London. He became program assistant and coordinator and remained through 1966.

Besides writing scripts for Finnish and German BBC broadcasts during his time in London, he also wrote broadcasts and, increasingly, poetry in English. While Finnish would remain an important language for his creative work, in the early 1960’s Hollo produced a quick succession of collections of his new English-language poetry. During this time he continued working on literary translations. In the early 1960’s, he translated the works of such authors as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and rock musician and writer John Lennon into European languages. Simultaneously, he began translating the works of Russian and European poets and novelists into English.

Many of these translations were published by the influential City Lights and Grove Presses of San Francisco, inaugurating an association with the American literary scene that would grow deeper through the years. Hollo would eventually be involved with several American literary movements, including the Beat, Black Mountain, New York, and Language schools of poetry.

This involvement intensified in 1967, when he accepted the first in a series of positions as visiting lecturer, visiting professor, and visiting poet at various universities in the United States.

These universities included, in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, State University of New York, Buffalo; Bowling Green State University in Ohio; Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York; Michigan State University; the University of Maryland; Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota; and Sweet Briar College in Virginia. He headed the translation workshop at the University of Iowa, from 1971 to 1972.

The 1970’s saw publication of several important collections, including Maya, Heavy Jars, and Sojourner Microcosms. In 1976 he was awarded the New York State Creative Artists’ Public Service award, and honor followed in 1979 with a National Endowment for the Arts Poet’s Fellowship. In the mid-1970’s he began a long association with Naropa Institute/Naropa University, a Buddhist-inspired, nonsectarian liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado. He taught annually in its summer writing programs. During the period 1981 to 1983 he also served as lecturer at New College of California in San Francisco. Still extremely active as a translator, he was awarded in 1981, and again in 1989, the American-Scandinavian Foundation award for poetry in translation.

In 1985 he married Jane Dalrymple, a painter who would provide artwork for several of Hollo’s books. In 1989 he began his long tenure as a full-time faculty member in the Writing and Poetics Department and master of fine arts program at Naropa University. In 1989 he was also awarded the Fund for Poetry Award for contributions to contemporary poetry, an honor that was repeated in 1991. Hollo continued his creative work through the 1990’s, with Corvus being an especially successful new poetry collection. Honors in that decade included the 1996 Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry. His work as a translator continued to result in new work, and in 1996 he was awarded the Finnish Government Prize for Translation of Finnish Literature.

Hollo built and maintained his reputation on short lyric poems. Rather than offering long masterworks to the public, he published collections of these short works as evidence of his serious intent as a writer. Visually, these poems had a diffuse, or spare, appearance. Far from lacking substance, however, they reflected a distinctly adventurous mind at work, full of humor, curiosity, and imagination. As might be expected from a former secretary to a chemist, they touched intelligently upon the world of science; and as might be expected from a translator comfortable in multiple tongues, they were richly endowed with wide-ranging literary references. The references, whether to science or literature, never appeared burdened by an academic tone, however. Hollo won the respect of critics and peers by writing a poetry devoid of coyness or pedantry. In contrast to his first forty-four years of literary production, however, his single most significant late work was a long poem, Rue Wilson Monday, published in 2000. Actually a sequence of shorter poems, it was a daybook in verse of a time spent in France.

While European-born, Hollo produced a body of work that is as American as it is international. True to the literary movements within which he wrote, Hollo’s poetry rebelled from institutional authority even while it invoked his own lively personal authority. This intensely personal quality ensures it a place in the American poetic canon.

BibliographyCline, Lynn. “Anselm Hollo’s Poetry Speaks Volumes.” The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 13, 2001. Cline writes about the poet’s views on “life outside the box,” based on Hollo’s lectures.Foster, Edward Halsey. Postmodern Poetry: The Talisman Interviews. Hoboken, N.J.: Talisman House, 1994. In Foster’s interview with Hollo, the poet discusses his work and influences. Foster places Hollo alongside such figures as Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, and Rosemarie Waldrop.Hollo, Anselm. Postmodern Poetry: The Talisman Interviews. Interview by Edward Halley Foster. Hoboken, N.J.: Talisman House, 1994. In his interview, Hollo discusses his work, his influences, and his views on translation. Foster places Hollo alongside such contemporary American poets as Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, and Rosemarie Waldrop.Weatherhead, A. Kingsley. The British Dissonance: Essays on Ten Contemporary Poets. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1983. Kingsley discusses Hollo in terms of his status as a poet once active in England, alongside such British poets as Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, and Tom Raworth.
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