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Lakshmi Holmstrom

Posted by Angela Jarman & Tony Ward, 11th May 2016

We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Lakshmi Holmström at the weekend. Although we knew of Lakshmi's reputation as a leading translator of the Tamil language, we did not get to know her personally until we commissioned a translation of the selected poems of the Tamil poet Cheran Rudhramurthy which Arc published in 2013 under the title In a Time of Burning.

She was a wonderful person to work with - thoughtful yet decisive, tactful yet uncompromising - and, despite her many work and personal commitments, always unfailingly generous with her time and her energy. As a translator of poetry, she was outstanding, so when she suggested that Arc might be interested in publishing an anthology of Tamil poetry from the Sri Lankan civil war, co-edited and co-translated by her and the American academic Sascha Ebeling, we unhesitatingly said yes. This was a complex anthology to put together, not only in its scope (it included the work of poets from the world-wide Tamil diaspora) but also in its balance (it attempted to embrace all sections of Tamil society) and Lakshmi's editorial guidance, advice and wisdom were invaluable.

We spent many stimulating hours at her home in Norwich, discussing the book and selecting and refining its content, each visit culminating in a wonderful meal (cooked by Lakshmi) and wide-ranging discussion round the dinner-table with her and her husband Mark. We feel privileged and grateful to have had the good fortune to know and work with Lakshmi, and we will not forget what she brought both to Arc and to our personal lives.