Amitabh Mitra (Bengali: অমিতাভ মিত্র) is an Indian-born South African physician, poet and artist, whose paintings depict dramatised stick figures.
Education and career
Mitra studied medicine and did postgraduate studies in orthopaedic surgery at the Gajara Raja Medical College, Jiwaji University, Gwalior, India. He further specialised in aerospace medicine and family medicine at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
A practitioner of orthopaedic surgery and trauma surgery, currently working at the Accident and Emergency unit of Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, Mdantsane, South Africa, he has published five volumes of poetry and exhibited his poetry art. Mitra figures in the international roster of physician poets, a massive roster of ancient and contemporary poets / writers maintained by Daniel Bryant and assisted by Suzanne Poirer, Professor of Literature and Medical Education, University of Illinois, USA He represented South Africa at the World Literature Festival in Oslo 2008.
A major section of Mitra's work on art and poetry is devoted to Gwalior, where he grew up. His close friendship with the Maratha royal families resulted in his drawing a series of watercolour involving poetry which he exhibited in South Africa and India. A Slow Train to Gwalior is a coffee-table book of his art and poetry; a compact disc of his recitation with a backdrop of African traditional music was released by the Premier of Eastern Cape, Nosimo Balindlela, and a short documentary film on his Gwalior poetry was shown at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2009. In 2007 he was invited by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, where he presented his work to a poetry-loving audience.
Mitra's work in trauma surgery took him to Bhutan, where he worked at high-altitude hospitals of Chukha, Tsimalakha, Chimakothi and Thimphu under severe conditions. During these times he wrote poems about Bhutan, some of which were translated into French. He wrote about his adventures in his search for the utopian Shangri La. Khushwant Singh, the former editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India visited him to his hospital in Bhutan and wrote about him in his weekly columns, "With Malice Towards One and All" in the Times of India during the 1980s. Mitra later went to Arunachal Pradesh, where he joined as an orthopaedic surgeon at Along. He joined as an orthopaedic surgeon at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1993. He lived in Bulawayo's Mzilikazi township and narrated his experiences during the time of political turmoil.
Mdantsane Breathing is his book on the art and poetry of Mdantsane.
Mitra's art and poetry on the township of Mdantsane, South Africa, was exhibited at the 2011 International Symposium for Poetry and Medicine and Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine Awards on Saturday, 7 May 2011, entitled Poems from Cecilia Makiwane Hospital.
Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, An Anthology of Migrant Poetry of South Africa (co-edited with Naomi Nkealah) was short listed for the National Humanities and Social Sciences Award, South Africa, 2016.
- Bithika – 1978
- Ritual Silences – 1980
- A Slow Train to Gwalior – 2009
- Leaping the Lilac Sun – 2009
- Mdantsane Breathing – 2010
- Tonight, An Anthology of World Love Poetry – 2008 (co-edited with Victoria Valentine)
- Poems for Haiti, A South African Anthology (Foreword by Professor Peter Horn) – 2010
- Unbreaking the Rainbow, Voices of Protest from New South Africa (Foreword by Ela Gandhi) – 2012
- Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa (co-edited with Naomi Nkealah) (Art by Arpana Caur) – 2013
- Our Little Black Book of Ills, Poetry Anthology, Four Poets Share Expressions of Grief(with Victoria ValentineLynda G Bullerwelljacob erin-cilberto) - 2015
- Stranger than a Sun, Poems and Drawings of Gwalior - 2015
- Trainstorm, An Anthology of Alternative Train Poetry - 2016
Compact disc of poetry and music
- A Slow Train to Gwalior – 2007
- "A Chat by Ramendra Kumar".
- "Bryant Collection – Physician Roster".
- "Participation World Literature Festival, Oslo".
- "The Hindu". Chennai, India. 12 January 2008.
- "At Sahitya Akademi, Delhi".
- "The Search for Shangri-La".
- "In Bhutan".
- "Remembering Zimbabwe of Old".
- "South African Artists".
- "Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, Symbol of Hope and Courage in South Africa".
- Hennop, Jan (11 March 2010). "Journey through Mdantsane". Daily Dispatch.
- "Like the bird who flew, Poetry of Prabhatkiran Bose".
- "Translation of Prabhatkiran Bose's Bangla Poetry".
- "2011 International Symposium for Poetry and Medicine, University of Warwick, UK".
- "Poetry and Medicine".
- "Daily Dispatch, South Africa's premier daily features Splinters of a Mirage Dawn, Anthology of Migrant Poetry of South Africa".
- "A Hudson View Poetry Digest".
- "Inyathi Journal trumpets its success". buffalocity.gov.za. 28 August 2008.
- Official website
- "Gandhi Experimenting With". Lila Interactions. 3 October 2014.
- "Chirikure Chirikure reviews Splinters of a Mirage Dawn". Books Live. 30 October 2013.
- Shanaaz Prince (6 July 2012). "East London Doctor Launches Poetry Book". Daily Dispatch.
- Staff (2 September 2008). "EL medical officer is an artist and a poet". Daily Dispatch.
- Langry, Tasnim (6 May 2009). "Mitra,Doctor of Poetry". The Post.
- Soobramoney, Candice (14 May 2008). "The doctor who indulges in paint and poems". The Post.
- "Amitabh Mitra". African Writing Online ISSN 1754-6672. December/January 2008. Check date values in:
- "A Slow Train to Gwalior Volume 19". Other Voices Poetry. 30 November 2008.
- "Subtle Tea, Poetry by Amitabh Mitra". Subtle Tea. 2006.
- "Slow Trains Literary Journal, Zubeida". Slow Trains. 2005.
- Vena, Vuvu (26 September 2016). "Solo Art Show Demonstrates Doctor's Versatility". Daily Dispatch.
- "Mitra Acrylic Works for Coach House". Go & Express Community Newspaper. 23 September 2016.