|Born||22 October 1928|
Cuttack, Bihar and Orissa Province, British India
|Occupation||Indian English poet, Teacher of Physics|
|Notable works||Relationship (1980)|
|Notable awards||Sahitya Akademi, Padma Shri|
|Parents||Lemuel Mohapatra, Sudhansubala Dash|
Jayanta Mahapatra (born 22 October 1928) is an Indian English poet. 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. He returned the award in 2015 to protest against rising intolerance in India.
Mahapatra was part of a trio of poets who laid the foundations of Indian English Poetry, which included A. K. Ramanujan and R. Parthasarathy. 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.
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. 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.
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. His poems have appeared in prestigious poetry anthologies like The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India, published by Hidden Brook Press, 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.
In 1981 Jayanta 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. 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.
Poetry in Odia
Translations into English