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Jayanta Mahapatra (1928 - till present)


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Jayanta Mahapatra (1928 - till present)

Jayanta MahapatraJayanta Mahapatra is one of the most widely known Indian English poets of the modern period. As a poet he is very sensitive and his poems deal with every kind of emotions as love,  pain, sadness, death, faith and so on. He is a poet of human relationships and most of his poems centers round man-woman relationship. One can sense the presence of Orissa in his poem. Mahapatra is the first Indian English Poet to receive the Sahitya Academi Award in the year 1981.

Life of Jayanta Mahapatra

He was born on 22nd October, 1928 to a lower middle class family of  Lemuel Mahapatra and Sudhansa Mahapatra.Mahapatra began his early formal education in an English medium school named Stewart School at Cuttack. He completed his masters in Physics and started his profession as a teacher in 1949. He served in various Government colleges of Orissa and retired from his job as a teacher in 1986. Mahapatra began writing poetry at the age of thirty-eight, quite late as compared to other poets. His name is included among the three founders of Indian English poetry, the other two being A.K Ramanujan and Nissim Ezekiel.

Literary career of Jayanta Mahapatra

As a poet he is very sensitive and his poems dealt with every kind of emotions- pain, love, sadness, death, faith and so on. The sense of alienation which Mahapatra always felt as a child from his mother can also be reflected in his works. Poetry is an expression of one’s emotions and feelings and Mahapatra used it as a tool to express himself. His concern to bring a change in the society can be seen in his poems such as ‘Hunger’ which shows how poverty detaches one of any humanly feelings; ‘Dawn at Puri’ which shows the hypocrisy of the priests and so on. One can therefore sense the presence of Orissa in his poems. Mahapatra’s style of writing is very obscure and vague. The readers are expected to interpret in any way possible; there is no one single way to interpret a poem. This is how a true poet functions. He is a poet of human relationships and most of is poems centers round man-woman relationship. There is also a sense of Indianness in his writings. According to critics Dipak and Pradeep Chaswal, He admits that the setting, background and sensibility in a poet’s work should be rooted in his soil.

Jayanta Mahapatra has so far written eighteen books of poems. The name of his first collection of poems is Svayamvara and Other Poems(1971) followed by other collections like Close the Sky Ten by Ten(1971), A Father’s Hours(1976), A Rain of Rites(1976), Waiting(1979), Life Signs(1983),A Whiteness of Bone(1992), Shadow Space(1997), Bare Face(2000), Random Descent among others. He has written a short story titled The Green Gardener (1947) and also edited a literary magazine, Chandrabhaga. The collection of his poems in Oriya is Bali (1993), Kahibi Gotii Katha (1995), Baya Raja (1997), Tikil Chhayee (2001), Chali (2006), and Jadiba Gapatiayy (2009). Mahapatra had also translated in English from Oriya and Bengali. Some of his translated works include Countermeasures: Poems (1973), Wings of the Past: Poems (1976), Verticals of Life: Poems (1996), Discovery and the Other Poems (2001), and A Time of Rising (2003).

Awards and achievements of Jayanta Mahapatra

Jayanta Mahapatra has been showered with many prestigious awards for his appraised works in the field of literature. He has been awarded Jacob Glatstein Memorial Award (1975), Allen Tate Prize (2009), SAARC literary Award for the year 2009, Padma Shree Award (2009). In the same year he has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by Ravenshaw University on 2nd May.

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