Go Back

Juhani Lindholm

Antti Juhani Lindholm
Born March 16, 1951, Helsinki

Freelance translator and journalist
BA 1981, University of Helsinki

Chair of the Eino Leino Society 2008–
Vice-Chair of the Lahti International Writers’ Reunion Committee 2009–
Event manager of the Lahti International Writers’ Reunion (LIWRE)
Member of the Board for Grants and Subsidies to Writers and Translators 2000–11
Member of the National Council for Literature 2013–14, Vice-Chair 2015–
Teaching assignments at the University of Helsinki, the School of Arts and Design, and translation master classes

Awards and recognitions
Otava Anniversary Translator Award 1990
Finnish Broadcasting Company’s Translator Award for best poetry translation 2007
J. A. Hollo Prize 2009
State Literature Prize 2009
State Extra Pension for Artists 2013
Mikael Agricola Award 2015

Photo: Juhani Lindholm's personal archive
Written by Juhani Lindholm
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Studying life at the university

When in the autumn of 1970 I entered the University of Helsinki to study Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (the subject had recently changed its name from Aesthetics and Contemporary Literature), Sanskrit, and Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, it was a revolutionary time. The smoky and noisy cafeteria of the University Main Building (smoking was still allowed back then) was a gathering ground for radical groups all with their own badges planning educational reforms and the derailment of the entire University’s elitism to serve the societal and educational needs of the common man. Long-haired and bearded young men in worn out sweaters, velvet jackets or flowing cassocks with jeans and women who ‘let it all hang out’ were the object of amazed and sometimes horrified gazes from the more traditional students who tried to find room for their plates on dining tables covered with pamphlets and other printed works, as well as battered metal ashtrays.

The revolution never came, but society and the University did change. Many of the activists and radicals of the time have climbed to the top of their fields on an international level, as professors, as members of parliament, and even as executives in the business world. The examination system was reformed. I remember working on the qualifications framework in the Faculty of Arts when I was part of some subsection of the committee responsible for reforming the examination of Philosophy and Social Sciences. Improvements in student aid were sought for and finally achieved (at one point there were demands for a monthly aid of a thousand Finnish marks to all students, an insider slogan being ‘bills in hand, booze in belly’). Student representation was achieved in departmental administration as well, although only after many obstacles and setbacks. It will likely be no more than a footnote in the history of the University that the Great Hall of the Main Building was occupied in an organised fashion and apparently for the first time on November 4th, 1976. All through the following night speeches were given there. The University administration acted wisely when they chose not to call the police to eject the students, and the occupiers in their turn did nothing to disrupt the everyday activities of the University—save their disregard for the work shifts of the unfortunate janitors.

Studying? It was a time when ‘eternal student was still a legitimate concept (‘lifelong learning’ came later). Particularly in the humanities and in political and social sciences, studying was only one part of the process when getting a profession—a profession that probably did not even exist if you did not create it first. All that seemingly unproductive activity had the benefit of preparing you for life, not school. I ended up in journalism through student organisations and student nation activity, one of my minors being Journalism and Mass Communication. With Art History and Finnish History studies I was able to put together the requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts while working and my love for literature finally made me decide on translation as my true career. Going through my old calendars I seldom come across the laconic but revealing phrase: ‘home all evening.’

Photo: Juhani Lindholm's photo archive.​
Photo: Juhani Lindholm's photo archive.​


Go Back