Lakshmi Holmstrom was a writer and translator, working from Tamil into English. Over 30 years she translated short stories, novels and poetry by the major contemporary writers in Tamil. A particular interest was writing by women and by Dalits, formerly known as ‘untouchables’. In 2002 she received the Crossword Book award for her translation of Karukku, by Bama. In 2007 she shared the Crossword-Hutch award for her translation of Ambai’s short stories In a Forest, a Deer, and in 2008 she received the Iyal award from the Tamil Literary Garden, Canada. In 2011, she received an MBE for her services to literature.
In later years, Lakshmi translated modern Tamil poetry from India and Sri Lanka. Wild Girls, Wicked Words, a translation of four Tamil women poets, appeared in 2012. In a Time of Burning, a translation of poems by the Sri Lankan poet Cheran, was published by Arc Publications in 2013. This won an English Pen award. A final project, undertaken with Sascha Ebeling at the University of Chicago, was to collate and translate an anthology of poetry from Sri Lanka, spanning 30 years of war.
Lakshmi was one of the founding trustees on Sadaa (South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive, formerly Salidaa). This was founded with the aim of preserving the literatures and arts of the South Asian diaspora in England since 1947.