Cuttack: The world of literature is grieving as Jayanta Mahapatra, one of India’s distinguished English poets passed away at 94. He breathed his last this evening at the SCB Medical College and Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for age-related ailments.
Jayanta Mahapatra is celebrated as one of India’s most exceptional English poets, whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the global literary landscape. Although his academic background was in Physics, Mahapatra ventured into English poetry in the late 1960s. In 1971, he published his debut poetry collection, “Close the Sky Ten by Ten,” followed by another collection, “Svayamvara and Other Poems,” in the same year. His poetic journey continued with works like “A Father’s Hours” (1976), “A Rain of Rites” (1976), “Waiting” (1979), “The False Start” (1980), “Relationship” (1980), and “Random Descent,” among others.
In 1981, he etched his name in history by becoming the first Indian poet to receive the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for English poetry.
Jayanta Mahapatra was further honored in 2009 with the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards. However, in 2015, as a poignant protest against the growing intolerance in the country, he made the significant decision to return this award. His principled stand exemplified his unwavering commitment to his beliefs and values, making him one of the pioneering Odia writers to join the movement of returning awards.
Beyond his poetry, Jayanta Mahapatra served as the editor of the renowned literary magazine ‘Chandrabhaga’.
His passing marks the end of an era, leaving behind an enduring legacy that will continue to inspire generations of poets and readers.