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Hjörtur Pálsson


Hjörtur Pálsson was born on the farm Sörlastaðir in Fnjóskadalur valley in the north of Iceland on June 5th, 1941. He grew up in Fnjóskadalur and Akureyri, graduating from the Akureyri high school in 1961. He then studied Icelandic language and literature, as well as history, at The University of Iceland and received his Masters degree in Icelandic studies in 1972. Hjörtur studied Finnish language and literature at the same university from 1987 – 1991, spent a summer in Helsinki in 1991 and took a course in Finnish at the University of Tampere in Finland the following summer. He took a course in German in 1997, and did Greek studies at The University of Iceland in 1998 – 1999. Hjörtur has also lived in Canada, Denmark and the Faeroe Islands.

Hjörtur worked as a journalist at the newspaper Tíminn from 1961 – 1962 and at Alþýðublaðið newspaper in 1963 – 1964. He was a librarian at the Icelandic department of the library of The University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, in 1963. He did various jobs for The Icelandic Broadcasting Company on the side of his studies from 1964 – 1972, both as a reporter and working on other programs. He was the editor of the radio department of the company from 1972 – 1984, but took two years off during this time while he worked in Denmark. First as a lecturer in Icelandic language and literature at Århus University in 1974 – 1975, and in 1982 – 1983 he worked on his writings at Digterhjemmet in Julius Bomholts Hus in Fanø. He was Director of The Nordic House in the Faeroe Islands from 1984 – 1985. Since then Hjörtur has worked as a writer and translator, as well as being a proofreader and editor, mainly for radio and in book publishing. He did research in literature in Lund and Stockholm in Sweden in 1992.

Hjörtur has been active in various associations and committees. He was an active member of Norræna félagið (The Nordic Association in Iceland) for years and the editor of Norræn jól (Nordic Christmas) from 1985 – 1991. He sat on the publishing board of the publishing house Almenna bókafélagið for ten years and was on the Icelandic panel of judges for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize from 1976 – 1982. He was a stand-in member of the board of the Nordic translation fund for some time, as well as being a board member of the Icelandic Writer’s Fund, and the Icelandic Broadcasting Company’s Writer’s Fund. He was also a board member at The Icelandic Writer’s Union for some time and at the Soumi Club since 1998, being chairman of the club since 1999.

Hjörtur has sent forward some books of poetry and his poems have also been published in magazines and journals. He has translated numerous books, both poetry and prose, fiction, travel books, children’s books and others, from English, German, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish and Faeroese. Most of his translations have been published in books, but he has also translated for radio, newspapers and the stage. Hjörtur has also written a number of radio programs and articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as being the editor of various books. Poems and other writings by Hjörtur have appeared in collections in Iceland and abroad.