Jayanta Mahapatra, born on 22 October 1923 in Cuttack, belongs to a lower middle-class family. Had his early education (from Kindergarhen to Cambridge classes) in English medium at Stewart school, Cuttack. After his Master's Degree in Physics, he joined as a teacher in 1949 and served in different Government college of Orissa. Got his superannuation in 1986 when he was in Ravenshaw College, Cuttack.
Jayanta Mahapatra began writing poems rather late in comparison with his contemporaries. But this late beginning does not in anyway distort his achievement. His poems have appeared in most of the reputed journals of the world. He received the prestigious Jacob Glatstein Memorial Award (Chicago) in 1975. He is the first Indian poet in English to have received the Central Sahitya Akademi Award(1981) for his Relationship . His other volumes include Close the Sky, Ten by Ten, Svayamvara & Other Poems, A Father's Hours, A Rain of Rites, Waiting, The False Start & Life Sings. His translations (from Oriya to English ) bear the stamp of his originality too.
His early poems were born of love, of love's selfishness. They celebrate not only passion, the body's spacious business, but consistently evoke a melancholic atmosphere rent with absences, fears, foreboding and sufferings. But slowly and steadily the poet released himself from this lonesome citadel of love, and learnt involving himself with other men, living or dead with many other succulent chambers of living. Fear of ageing, fear of death, and love for life and memory, love for the golden past an inquisitiveness to live amid contraries of life, and a complete absorption in and identification with culture and tradition of Orissa-all these run simultaneously, as it were, the poet is sincerely trying to uphold the lost dimension of blood and the living. Death is a new beginning for the poet, and life a 'telegraph key tapping away in the dark':
Childhood memories occupy a considerable space in his poetry.
His commitment to and identification with Orissa becomes complete when he exhorts the dark daughters engraved on the body of the Sun Temple at Konark.
The richness and sophistication of language, the softness and delicacy of the words chosen, systematized orchestration of authenticated experiences through the exact palpability of images, the sincerity of harping on the 'feel' of the experiences rather than on their 'thought', the sweetness of music emerging from a fountain-like flow of the verse-form contribute to the greatness and ingenuity of Mohapatra's poetry.
[Back to top]
Close the sky, Ten by Ten (1971)
Svayamvara & other poems(1971)
A Father's Hours(1976)
A Rain of Rites(1976),Waiting(1979)
The False Start (1980)Relationship (1980)
Life Signs(1983)Dispossessed Nests(1986)
Burden of Waves & Fruit (1988