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Veikko Koskenniemi

Veikko Antero Koskenniemi (previously Forsnäs)
Born 8 July, 1885, Oulu. Died 4 August, 1962, Turku

Master of Arts 1907, Imperial Alexander University

Assistant 1905, Uusi Suomi newspaper (previously Suometar)
Editor-in-chief: Uusi Päivä newspaper, 1917–1918; Iltalehti newspaper, 1918–1919; and Aika journal 1912–1921
Professor of Finnish Literature and Literary History, 1921–1948, University of Turku
Vice-rector 1923–1924, Rector 1924–1932, University of Turku

Member of the Academy of Finland, 1948–1955

Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura
Written by Tero Juutilainen
Translated by John Calton

Finland's poet and patriot

The themes in Veikko Antero Koskeniemi’s poems and writing vary over the years and reflect well the stage in his life when they were written, although offering a slightly one-sided view. The publication of poetry collections was a common feature of his production as a recently-graduated young man, while in the 1920s and 30s he moved toward more academic monographs. In the post-war years, from the professorship until after his retirement, it was once again time to concentrate his efforts on the world of poetry. In addition to these, Koskenniemi published many other works, such as travel books detailing various European trips. Travelling had a positive impact on his output and Pirkko Alhoniemi notes that Koskenniemi’s travels gave him a more profound understanding of European cultural heritage.

The historical tones, ancient themes and antique meters gave way to some extent to politics as the Civil War broke. Koskenniemi sought to stir up patriotic feelings, drawing inspiration from both Runeberg’s works and Snellman’s ideas. The ultimate decision to side with the Whites in Finland is evident in the publication of poems such as ‘Leijonalippu’ (‘Lion’s flag’) and ‘Runo Suomen vapaudelle’ (‘Ode to Finland’s freedom’).

Politics did not necessarily inform his work as a professor in the 1920s, but in the 1930s V. A. Koskenniemi began to publish more and more political writings. Uusi Aura, a right-wing newspaper published in Turku, was his main channel of publication. In the 1930s there was a general rise of the extreme right and it is easy to see Koskenniemi’s writings as part of this movement. However, Pirkko Alhoniemi observes that it was Koskenniemi’s keen political engagement that ultimately turned against him at the conclusion of the Second World War.

V. A. Koskenniemi has been described as both a philosophical and conventional poet. The latter quality also brought him criticism after the war. In Pirkko Alhoniemi’s assessment it was not so much a question of Koskenniemi’s poetry tailing off, but more that poetry had received new impetus, heading in a direction which Koskenniemi did not want to go.

Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.​
Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.​


  • Pirkko Alhoniemi, ’Koskenniemi, Veikko Antero’. National Biography of Finland. Accessed 5.2.2015. (In Finnish.)
  • Wikipedia, ‘V. A. Koskenniemi’. Accessed 5.2.2015.


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