Jayanta Mahapatra

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Jayanta Mahapatra
Born Jayant
Occupation Indian english poets
Years active 1970–present
Awards Sahitya Akademi, Padma Shri

Jayanta Mahapatra (born 1928) is one of the best known Indian English poets. He is the first ever Indian poet to win Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He is the author of such popular poems as Indian Summer and Hunger, which are regarded as classics in modern Indian English literature. He is also a winner of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India.

Indian Poets Trio[edit]

Besides being one of the popular Indian poets of his generation, Mahapatra was also part of the trio of poets who laid the foundations of Indian English Poetry. He shared a special bond with A. K. Ramanujan, one of the finest poets in the IEP tradition. Mahapatra is also different in not being a product of the Bombay school of poets besides R. Parthasarathy. Over time, he has managed to carve a quiet, tranquail poetic voice of his own—distinctly different from those of his contemporaries. His wordy lyricism combined with ntic Indian themes put him in a league of his own.


All his working life, he taught physics at various colleges in Odisha including Gangadhar Meher College, Sambalpur, B.J.B College, Bhubaneswar, Fakir Mohan College, Balasore and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He retired in 1986.[1]

Mahapatra has authored 27 books of poems, of which seven are in Oriya and the rest in English. His poetry volumes include Relationship, Bare Face and Shadow Space. Mahapatra is a Sahitya Akademi awardee, and also a recipient of the Jacob Glatstein award conferred by Poetry magazine, Chicago. He was also awarded the Allen Tate Poetry Prize for 2009 from The Sewanee Review, Sewanee, USA. He received the SAARC Literary Award, New Delhi, 2009. Besides poetry, he has experimented widely with myriad forms of prose. His published books of prose are Green Gardener, an anthology of short stories and Door of Paper: Essay and Memoirs. Mahapatra is also a distinguished editor and has been bringing out, for many years, a literary magazine, Chandrabhaga, from Cuttack. The magazine is named after Chandrabhaga, a prominent river in Orissa.

He began writing poem when he was in the age of 40s. The publication of his first book of poems, Svayamvara and Other Poems, in 1971 was followed by the publication of Close The Sky Ten By Ten. One of Mahapatra's better remembered works is the long poem Relationship, for which he was the first Indian English poet to win the Sahitya Akademi award in 1981.

He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2009 by the president of India and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ravenshaw University on 2 May 2009. He was also awarded Litt. D. degree by Utkal University in 2006.


  • RaedLeaf Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award for Poetry, 2013, Hyderabad
  • Second Prize – International Who's Who in Poetry, London, 1970.
  • Jacob Glatstein Memorial Award – Poetry, Chicago, 1975.
  • Visiting Writer – International Writing Program, Iowa City 1976–77.
  • Cultural Award Visitor, Australia, 1978.
  • Japan Foundation – Visitor's Award, Japan, 1980.
  • Sahitya Academy Award – National Academy of Letters, New Delhi, 1981.
  • Invited Poet – Asian Poets Conference, Tokyo, Japan, 1984.
  • Indo-Soviet Cultural Exchange Writer, USSR, 1985.
  • Resident Writer – Centro Culturale della Fondazione Rockefeller, Bellagio, Italy, 1986.
  • Invited Poet – University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 1988.
  • Singapore Festival of Arts, Singapore, 1988.
  • New Literatures in English Conference, Justus-Liebig-Universitat, Giessen,
  • West Germany, 1989
  • ACLALS Silver Jubilee Conference, Canterbury, England, 1989.
  • First Prize – Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, 1990.
  • Invited Poet – Poetry International, The South Bank Centre, London, England, 1992.
  • Cuirt International Poetry Festival, Galway, Ireland, 1992.
  • EI Consejo Nacional Para la Cultura y las Artes, Mexico. 1994
  • Mingei International Museum of World Folk Art, La Jolla, USA. 1994.
  • Gangadhar National Award – For Poetry, Sambalpur University, 1994
  • Ramakrishna Jaidayal – Harmony Award, 1994, New Delhi.
  • Vaikom Mohammad Basheer Chair – Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, 1996–97.
  • Invited Poet – ACLALS Conference, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1998.
  • Awarded Honorary Degree – Doctor of Literature, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, 2006.
  • Invited Poet – Weltklang Poetry Festival, Berlin, Germany, 2006.
  • Bishuva Award – Prajatantra Prachara Samiti, Cuttack, 2007.
  • Padma Shree Award – India's Padma Shree Award, 2009.
  • SAARC Literary Award, New Delhi, 2010

Poetry Readings[edit]

Outside India
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1976
  • University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, 1976
  • University of the South, Sewanee, 1976
  • East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1976
  • Adelaide Festival of Arts, Adelaide, 1978
  • P.E.N. Centre, Sydney, 1978
  • Australian National University, Canberra, 1978
  • International Poets Conference, Tokyo, 1980
  • Asian Poets Conference, Tokyo, 1984
  • Aoyama University, Tokyo, 1984
  • Sapporo University, Sapporo, 1984
  • Writers Union, Moscow, Leningrad & Lvov, USSR, 1985
  • Singapore Festival of Arts, Singapore, 1988
  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, 1988
  • University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 1988
  • Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, 1988
  • University of the Philippines, Manila City, 1988
  • Museong Kalinangang Pilipino, Manila, 1988
  • Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, Ireland, 1992
  • Sligo Arts Centre, The Grammar School, Sligo, 1992
  • The Guild Hall, Derry, 1992
  • WEA, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hexham and Durham, 1992
  • The South Bank Centre, London, 1992
  • Universities of Hull and Leeds (UK), 1992
  • The Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado, 1994
  • Instituto de Cultura de Campeche, Mexico, 1994
  • Instituto de Cultura de Puebla, Mexico,1994
  • Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, USA, 1995
  • Hunter College, New York City, 1995
  • University of the South, Sewanee, USA, 1995
  • Writers Forum, De Kalb College, Atlanta, USA, 1995
  • Writers Forum, St. Andrews College, Laurinburg, USA, 1995
  • British Council, Kandy, 1998
  • Indian Cultural Centre, Colombo, 1998
In India

Books by Jayanta Mahapatra[edit]

  • 1971: Close the Sky Ten by Ten, Calcutta: Dialogue Publications[2]
  • 1971: Svayamvara and Other Poems, Calcutta: Writers Workshop[2]
  • 1976: A Father's Hours, Delhi: United Writers[2]
  • 1976: A Rain of Rites, Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press[2]
  • 1979: Waiting, Samkaleen Prakashan[2]
  • 1980: The False Start, Bombay: Clearing House[2]
  • 1980: Relationship, Greenfield, New York: Greenfield Review Press[2]
  • 1983: Life Signs, New Delhi: Oxford University Press[2]
  • 1986: Dispossessed Nests, Delhi/Jaipur: Nirala Publications[2]
  • 1987: Selected Poems, New Delhi: Oxford University Press[2]
  • 1988: Burden of Waves & Fruit, Washington DC: Three Continents Press[2]
  • 1989: Temple, Sydney/Mundelstrup/Coventry: Dangaroo Press[2]
  • 1992: A Whiteness of Bone, Viking Penguin[2]
  • 1995: The Best of Jayanta Mahapatra, Kozhikode, Kerala: Bodhi Publications[2]
  • 1997: Shadow Space, Kottayam, Kerala: DC Books[2]
  • 2000: Bare Face, Kottayam, Kerala: DC Books[2]
  • 2006: Random Descent, Bhubaneswar, Odisha: Third Eye Communications[2]
  • 2006: Samparka, Natuna Dilli: Sāhitya Akādemi[3]
  • 2009: The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974–2008, New Delhi: Authorspress[2]
  • 2013: Land, New Delhi: Authorspress[2]
  • 1997: The Green Gardener, short stories, Hyderabad: Orient Longman[2]
  • 2006: Door of Paper: Essay and Memoirs, New Delhi: Authrospress[2]
  • 2011: Bhor Moitra Kanaphula. In Oriya. Bhubaneswar, Paschima[2]
Poetry in Oriya
  • 1993: Bali (The Victim), Cutack: Vidyapuri[2]
  • 1995: Kahibe Gotiye Katha (I'll Tell A Story), Arya Prakashan[2]
  • 1997: Baya Raja(The Mad Emperor), Cuttack: Vidyapuri[2]
  • 2004: Tikie Chhayee (A Little Shadow), Cuttack; Vidyapuri[2]
  • 2006: Chali (Walking), Cuttack: Vidyapuri[2]
  • 2008: Jadiba Gapatie (Even If It's A Story), Cuttack: Friends Publishers[2]
  • 2011: Smruti Pari Kichhiti (A Small Memory), Cuttack: Bijayini[2]
  • 2013:Ten: The New Indian Poets. Edited and Selected by Jayanta Mahapatra & Yuyutsu Sharma. New Delhi/Jaipur: Nirala Publications[4]

Mahapatra's poems have been anthologised in the celebrated volumes of Indian poetry edited by R. Parthasarathy and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. Significant anthologies in which his work appears are:

  • The Poetry Anthology 1912 – 1977, Boston, USA (Houghton Mifflin, 1978)
  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry (ed. J. D. McClatcky; Random House, USA, 1996)
  • The Poetry Anthology 1912 -2002, Chicago, USA (Ivan R. Dee, 2002)

Critical studies[edit]

  • 2001: Bijay Kumar Das, The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: 3rd revised and enlarged edition; New Delhi: Atlantic, ISBN 81-7156-968-4[5]
  • 2006: Jaydeep Sarangi and Gauri Shankar Jha (eds), The Indian Imagination of Jayanta Mahapatra, New Delhi: Sarup and Sons, 2006, ISBN 81-7625-622-6, a compilation of critical articles.[6]
  • Jaydeep Sarangi, Jayanta Mahapatra Joy of Living and Loving in His Poetry, Aavishkar Publishers' Distributors, 2012, ISBN 8179103749. Printed INR: 600.00, hardcover, 162 pp.

Shiba Shankar Nath,"The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra:A Study in Imagery",Delhi:Authorspress,2014,ISBN 978-81-7273-897-6.Printed INR: 700.00,hardcover,173 pp.

See also[edit]

Rock Pebbles, Vol. XV No.1, January–June 2011(a special issue on Jayanta Mahapatra) ISSN 0975 0509


  1. ^ [1] Web page titled "Jayanta Mahapatra's Profile" at the Muse India Web site, accessed 16 October 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Bibliography in Land by Jayanta Mahapatra. Authorspress 2013
  3. ^ Search results page, WorldCat website, retrieved 10 August 2010
  4. ^ Yuyutsu Sharma, "Ten: The New Indian poets: Edited and Selected by Jayanta Mahapatra & Yuyutsu Sharma" (review), 27 October 2012.
  5. ^ Vedam's Books from India website, accessed 16 October 2007.
  6. ^ Vedam's Books from India website, accessed 16 October 2007.

External links[edit]