Acclaimed Odia and English language poet Jayanta Mahapatra no more
Mahapatra was first Indian poet to win Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry; returned Padma Shri in 2015 in protest against “rising intolerance in India”
Eminent poet Jayanta Mahapatra passed away at a hospital in Odisha’s Cuttack on Sunday (August 27), his family members said. He was 95.
Mahapatra had been admitted to the SCB Medical College Hospital for treatment of pneumonia and other old age-related aliments. His wife and son predeceased him.
Born in Cuttack on October 22, 1928, Mahapatra was the first Indian poet to win the Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2009. However, he returned it in 2015 to protest against “rising intolerance in India”.
The author of Indian Summer and Hunger, considered as classics in modern Indian English literature, penned 27 books of poems, of which seven are in Odia and the rest in English.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed deep grief on the passing away of Mahapatra, describing him as a genius in both English and Odia literature.
“He had successfully elevated the reach of Odia literature to a wider circle. His intellect and knowledge were a guiding spirit for many youngsters to write in English literature.
“His mellifluous words will continue to weave their magic, reminding us of the power of human expression. The vivid imagery of his writings about daily life, particularly drawn from Cuttack, will always remain a rich encapsulation of Odia life,” Patnaik said in his condolence message.
Mahapatra’s funeral will take place on Monday with full state honours, the chief minister said.
Celebrated author Amitav Ghosh tweeted: “RIP Jayanta Mahapatra. Wonderful man, great poet. Many vivid memories of visiting him at his home in Cuttack.”
Mahapatra’s prominent works also include Relationship, Bare Face, and Shadow Space.
He experimented with prose, too. His published books of prose include Green Gardener, an anthology of short stories, and Door of Paper: Essay and Memoirs.
A teacher by profession, Mahapatra studied at Stewart School in Cuttack and completed his master’s degree in Physics from Patna University.(With agency inputs)