Jayanta Mahapatra

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Jayanta Mahapatra
Jayanta Mahapatra.JPG
Born (1928-10-22) 22 October 1928 (age 94)
Cuttack, Bihar and Orissa Province, British India
OccupationIndian English poet, Teacher of Physics
Years active1970–present
Notable worksRelationship (1980)
Notable awardsSahitya Akademi, Padma Shri
ParentsLemuel Mohapatra, Sudhansubala Dash

Jayanta Mahapatra (born 22 October 1928)[1][2] is an Indian English poet.[3] He is the first Indian poet to win a Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He is the author of poems such as "Indian Summer" and "Hunger", which are regarded as classics in modern Indian English literature. He was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India in 2009.[4][5] He returned the award in 2015 to protest against rising intolerance in India.[6]

Indian Poets Trio[edit]

Mahapatra was part of a trio of poets who laid the foundations of Indian English Poetry, which included A. K. Ramanujan and R. Parthasarathy.[7] He differed from others in not being a product of Bombay school of poets. Over time, he has managed to carve a quiet, tranquil poetic voice of his own, different from those of his contemporaries.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Born into a prominent Odia Christian family, Mahapatra went to Stewart School in Cuttack, Odisha. He completed his M. Sc. in Physics from Patna University, Bihar. He began his teaching career as a lecturer in physics in 1949 and taught at various government colleges in Odisha including Gangadhar Meher College, Sambalpur, B.J.B College, Bhubaneswar, Fakir Mohan College, Balasore and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He superannuated at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (now Ravenshaw University) and retired from his government job as the Reader in Physics in 1986.[9] He began his writing career in the late sixties. His short stories and poems were initially rejected by several publishers, until his poems were published in international literary journals. He was invited to participate in the International Writing Program at Iowa, which brought him international exposure.

Literary works[edit]

Mahapatra has authored 27 books of poems, of which seven are in Odia and the rest in English. His poetry volumes include Relationship, Bare Face and Shadow Space. Besides poetry, he has experimented widely with myriad forms of prose. His published books of prose include 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 the literary magazine, Chandrabhaga.[10] His poems have appeared in prestigious poetry anthologies like The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India,[11] published by Hidden Brook Press,[12] Canada.

Mahapatra has also translated from Odia into English, and some of his translations are published in the bi-monthly literary magazine Indian Literature. Some anthologies of his translations have also been published.[13]

Awards, recognition and legacy[edit]

In 1981 Jayanta Mahapatra Mahapatra won Sahitya Akademi award for his poetry book Relationships. He became the first ever writer in English language to win Sahitya Akademi award. He is also a recipient of the Jacob Glatstein memorial award conferred by Poetry magazine, Chicago. He was also awarded the Allen Tate Poetry Prize for 2009 from The Sewanee Review. He received the SAARC Literary Award, New Delhi, 2009. He has also received Tata Literature Lifetime Achievement Award.[14] He was conferred with a Padma Shri in 2009 and awarded an honorary doctorate by Ravenshaw University on 2 May 2009. He was also awarded a D. Lit. degree by Utkal University, Odisha in 2006. In May 2019 he became the first ever Indian English poet to become a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi.[15]


  • “The Hindu: Jayanta Mahapatra - A doyen of Indian-English poetry”[16]

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

Books by Jayanta Mahapatra[edit]

  • 1971: Close the Sky Ten by Ten, Calcutta: Dialogue Publications[17]
  • 1971: Svayamvara and Other Poems, Calcutta: Writers Workshop[17]
  • 1976: A Father's Hours, Delhi: United Writers[17]
  • 1976: A Rain of Rites, Georgia: University of Georgia Press[17]
  • 1979: Waiting, Pune : Samkaleen Prakashan[17]
  • 1980: The False Start, Bombay: Clearing House[17]
  • 1980: Relationship, New York: Greenfield Review Press[17]
  • 2017: Collected Poems, Mumbai: Paperwall Publishing[18]


  • 1997: The Green Gardener, short stories, Hyderabad: Orient Longman[17]
  • 2006: Door of Paper: Essay and Memoirs, New Delhi: Authorspress[17]
  • 2011: Bhor Moitra Kanaphula (Odia), Bhubaneswar : Paschima Publications[17]

Poetry in Odia

  • 1993: Bali (The Victim), Cutack: Vidyapuri[17]
  • 1995: Kahibe Gotiye Katha (I'll Tell A Story), Arya Prakashan[17]
  • 1997: Baya Raja (The Mad Emperor), Cuttack: Vidyapuri[17]
  • 2004: Tikie Chhayee (A Little Shadow), Cuttack : Vidyapuri[17]
  • 2006: Chali (Walking), Cuttack: Vidyapuri[17]
  • 2008: Jadiba Gapatie (Even If It's A Story), Cuttack: Friends Publishers[17]
  • 2011: Smruti Pari Kichhiti (A Small Memory), Cuttack: Bijayini[17]

Translations into English

  • 1973: Countermeasures: Poems, Calcutta : Dialogue
  • 1976: Wings of the Past: Poems, Calcutta : Rajasree
  • 1981: Song of Kubja and Other Poems, New Delhi : Samkaleen
  • 1994: I Can, But Why Should I Go: Poems, New Delhi : Sahitya Akademi
  • 1996: Verticals of Life: Poems, New Delhi : Sahitya Akademi
  • 1998: Tapaswini: a Poem, Bhubaneswar : Odisha Sahitya Akademi
  • 2001: Discovery and other Poems, Kolkata : Writers Workshop
  • 2003: A Time of Rising (Poems), New Delhi : Har-Anand Publishers


  • Kanhaiya Lal Sethia Award for Poetry - 2017 (Jaipur Literature Festival)[19]
  • RL 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.

Appearances in the following poetry Anthologies[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • 2001: Bijay Kumar Das, The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: 3rd revised and enlarged edition; New Delhi: Atlantic, ISBN 81-7156-968-4[21]
  • 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.[22]
  • 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.
  • Zinia Mitra, Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra Imagery and Experiential Identity, Authorspress,2012,ISBN 978-81-7273-655-2 Hardcover, INR:500,172pp
  • The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: Themes & Imagery by Vivekanand Jha, New Delhi: Authorspress,2013 ISBN 978-8172736736[23]
  • 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.
  • Rock Pebbles, Vol. XV No.1, January–June 2011(a special issue on Jayanta Mahapatra) ISSN 0975-0509

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra". Poem hunter. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra : A profile". orissagateway.com. orissagateway.com. Archived from the original on 20 May 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Sahitya Akademi : Who's Who of Indian Writers". Sahitya Akademi. Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra returns Padma Shri protesting 'intolerance'". 23 November 2015.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Noted poet Jayanta Mahapatra returns Padma Shri - The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Poets who took Indian poetry to next level". Times of India. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Muse India". Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Muse India - Jayanta Mahapatra's Profile". Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007. Web page titled "Jayanta Mahapatra's Profile" at the Muse India Web site, accessed 16 October 2007
  10. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra - Biography". niralapublications.com. Nirala Publications. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  11. ^ Grove, Richard. "The Dance of the Peacock:An Anthology of English Poetry from India". No. current. Hidden Brook Press, Canada. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  12. ^ Press, Hidden Brook. "Hidden Brook Press". Hidden Brook Press. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra - Something in me refuses to die". livemint.com. livemint.com. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Jayanta Mahapatra on Joy of Receiving Awards". firstpost.com. First Post. 9 December 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Poet and Sahitya Akademi Award Winner Jayanta Mahapatra". firstpost.com. First Post. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  16. ^ Interview with Jayanta Mahapatra: A doyen of Indian-English poetry
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bibliography in Land by Jayanta Mahapatra. Authorspress 2013
  18. ^ "COLLECTED POEMS – Paperwall". Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  19. ^ "Cuttack poet bags Kanhaiya Lal Sethia Award for Poetry". 22 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Ten 20th Century Indian Poets". cse.iitk.ac.in. cse.iitk.ac.in. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  21. ^ Vedam's Books from India website, accessed 16 October 2007.
  22. ^ Vedam's Books from India website, accessed 16 October 2007.
  23. ^ Jha, Vivekanand. The Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: Themes and Imagery (First ed.). New Delhi: Authorspress. p. 434. ISBN 9788172736736.

External links[edit]