Anselm Hollo Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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.

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...

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(Poets and Poetry in America)

Anselm Hollo received his early education in Finland and first spent time in the United States on an exchange scholarship during his senior year, attending a high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He subsequently attended Helsinki University in Finland and the University of Tübingen in Germany. His early employment in the 1950’s included working as a commercial correspondent for a lumber export company in Finland and as an interpreter for the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. By the mid-1950’s, he was acting as a translator and book reviewer for both German and Finnish periodicals, while also serving as secretary to his grandfather, Professor Paul Walden of the University of Tübingen. In 1958, he accepted employment with the British Broadcasting Corporation’s European Services in London. He became a program assistant and coordinator, remaining through 1966.

Beginning in 1967, Hollo accepted a series of positions as a visiting lecturer, visiting professor, and visiting poet at universities in the United States, including, in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the State University of New York, Buffalo; Bowling Green University, Ohio; Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York; Michigan State University, East Lansing; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; Southwest State University, Marshall, Minnesota; and Sweet Briar College, Virginia. This period included his serving as head of the translation workshop at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, in 1971-1972. In 1981, Hollo began a long association with the Naropa Institute at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, which would lead to his being named associate professor in the graduate department of writing and poetics in 1989. From 1981 through 1983, he also served as a lecturer at the New College of California, San Francisco.

Throughout much of his career, Hollo has been associated with literary movements often seen in opposition to academe, including the Beat, New York, and Language schools of American poetry. Simultaneously, he has held academic positions, initially as lecturer and later as professor. That Hollo felt the tension inherent in this pairing of professions may be indicated by his long tenure at Naropa, a Buddhist-inspired yet nonsectarian alternative college.

He married Josephine Wirkus in 1957, with whom he had one son and two daughters. In 1985, he married the artist Jane Dalrymple. She has provided artwork for several of Hollo’s books.