Cuttack, 22 Nov 2015, (OdishaLIVE Bureau): In the midst of voice across the country against rising intolerance, Odisha hits the headline. Internationally acclaimed poet and veteran writer Prof. Jayanta Mahapatra announces here to return Padma Shri. Prof. Mahapatra has written a letter to the President of India to return the award citing his protest on the issue.
“My voice might be feeble, but I sincerely mean to mark my protest against the wrong that is happening in the country”, said Prof. Mahapatra to OdishaLIVE while revealing his plan to return the ‘Padma Shri’ award which was conferred to him by Govt. of India in 2009. Further, he clarified in the letter that such act of his should not be taken as a dishonor for the nation.
Prof. Mahapatra in his handwritten letter to the President of India has said, “I would feel ethically impugned if I did not raise my voice in dissent against the growing moral asymmetry that’s blatantly visible throughout our country. It’s small insignificant voice, true; but mine, of an aging man of 88 years, and in no way attempts to solve the issue I have stated here, an intrusion into the basic freedoms of a citizen of India.
“In accordance with my beliefs, I would, as a mark of protest, humbly wish to return the civilian honour of ‘Padma Shri’ which had been bestowed upon me by the President of India in 2009.” He shared the letter with the bunch of media, at his residence in Tinikonia Bagicha, here at Cuttack.
Poet Jayanta Mahapatra happens to be the first Odia to register protest against intolerance. Though the cases of protest against intolerance have been a matter of silent discussion among the writers and creative fraternity of the state, the decision of Prof. Mahapatra’s broke the headline.
Brief Bio of Prof. Jayanta Mahapatra:
Jayanta Mahapatra was born on October 22, 1928. He started writing late in life. He published his first book of poems called ‘Close the Sky, Ten by Ten’ at the age of 43 years.
His latest collection of poems is ‘LAND’.
He is the first poet who was recognized overseas and then in India. His poems create music to the ears of readers and he had established an idiom of his own. His poems are compared to the poems of Pablo Neruda for describing the human sufferings and pain. Prof. Mahapatra has written many poems on the backdrop of Odisha’s history and culture.
He had edited an English magazine called ‘Candrabhaga’ which had been stopped publishing now. Recently his poems are published in an anthology called ‘Wings over the Mahanadi’ in which eight Odia poets writing in English have found place. It is an anthology of first of its kind. This anthology has been published by ‘Poetrywala’, Mumbai, and edited by Manu Dash.
Jayanta Mahapatra is a globe-trotter and traveled almost all major countries in the world to read his poems.
He is liked for his simplicity among his peer poets. Other poets who are writing in English from Odisha are Bibhu Padhi, late Niranjan Mohanty, Prabhanjan K Mishra, Shanta Acharya, Rabindra K Swain, Manu Dash and Hemant Mohapatra. Interestingly, Odisha has a good presence in the realm of English poems in India and Jayanta Mahapatra has been the guiding force.
Publications of Jayanta Mahapatra:
Close the sky, Ten by Ten, Culcutta. Dialogue Publication, 1971
Svayamvara and Other Poems, Calcutta. Writers Workshop, 1971
A Father’s Hours, Calcutta. Writers Workshop, 1971
A Rain of Rites, Athens (USA). University of Georgia Press, 1976
Waiting, New Delhi. Samkaleen Prakashan, 1979
The False Start, Bombay. Clearing House, 19800
Relationship, Greenfield, New York. Greenfield Review Press, 1980
Life Signs, New Delhi. Oxford University Press, 1983
Selected Poems, New Delhi. Oxford University Press, 1987
Burden of Waves and Fruit, Washington, DC. Three Continents Press, 1988
Temple, Sydney/Mundelstrup/Coventry. Dangaroo Press, 1989
A Whiteness of Bone, New Delhi. Viking Penguin, 1992
The Best of Jayanta Mahapatra, Kozhikode. Bodhi Publications, 1995
Shadow Space, Kottayam. D.C.Books, 1997
Bare Face, Kottayam. D.C.Books,2000
Random Descent, Bhubaneswar. Third Eye Communications, 2005
The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974-2008, New Delhi, Authorspress, 2009