Jayanta Mahapatra Age, Death, Wife, Family, Biography & More

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Death Cause: Pneumonia
Age: 94 Years
Death Date: 27/08/2023

Jayanta Mahapatra

Profession• Poet
• Writer
Known forFirst Indian poet to win the Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry
Physical Stats & More
Eye ColourBlack
Hair Colourwhite
Last Published work‘Jhanji- the Sunstroke’ (Odhiya Poetry Book) (released on 1 January 2023)
AwardsIn 1981, he won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his poetry book "Relationships."
In 2009, he won Padma Shree for his contribution to literature.
In 2017, he won the Kanhaiya Lal Sethia Award for Poetry at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
In 2013, he won the RL Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award for Poetry in Hyderabad.
In 1975, he won the Jacob Glatstein Memorial Award for Poetry in Chicago.
In 1970, he won a Second Prize at the International Who's Who in Poetry in London.
In 1976, he received the Visiting Writer Award at the International Writing Program in Iowa City.
In 1978, he received the Cultural Award for Visitor in Australia.
In 1980, the Japan Foundation honoured him with a Visitor's Award in Japan.
In 2009, he received the SAARC Literary Award in New Delhi.
Personal Life
Date of Birth22 October 1928 (Monday)
BirthplaceCuttack, Odisha
Date of Death27 August 2023
Place of DeathSCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, Odisha
Age (at the time of death) 94 Years
Death Causepneumonia [1]The Hindu
Zodiac signLibra
SignatureJayanta Mahapatra signature
Nationality Indian
HometownCuttack, Odisha
SchoolStewart School in Cuttack, Odisha
College/University• Ravenshaw College in Cuttack
• Patna University, Bihar
Educational QualificationMasters in Physics at Patna University, Bihar [2]Jaipur National University
ReligionChristianity [3]The Wire
Relationships & More
Marital Status (at the time of death)Widower
Wife/ SpouseJyotsana Mahapathra (Runu) (Passed away in 2000s)
Jayanta Mahapatra wife
ChildrenSon-Mohan Mahapatra (passed away in 2018)
Daughter- None
ParentsFather- Lemuel Mohapatra
Mother- Sudhansubala Dash

Jayanta Mahapatra pictureSome Lesser Known Facts About Jayanta Mahapatra

  • Jayanta Mahapatra (1928-2023) was an Indian English poet. He was the first Indian poet to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi award for his poetry in English. He is considered one of the three poets, alongside A. K. Ramanujan and R. Parthasarathy, who established the foundations for Indian English poetry. Jayanta Mahapatra passed in August 2023.
  • Jayanta Mahapatra had a rough upbringing because of his inattentive father and his strict mother, who denied him any freedom. Jayanta ran away from home twice when he was a teenager. Due to money problems, he had to return home the first time; however, on the second occasion, his father brought him back.
  • Jayanta belonged to an Odian Christian lower middle-class family who lived among the Hindus. Jayanta Mahapatra experienced bullying at school because of his religion; he wrote about it in diaries that his mother burnt.
  • Jayanta Mahapatra attended Stewart School in Cuttack, Odisha. During School, Maths and Physics were his favourite subjects which led him to pursue Physics as a career. After completing his schooling, Mahapatra pursued graduation at the Ravenshaw College in Cuttack. After graduation, Mahapatra pursued a Masters in Physics at the Patna University, Bihar.
  • In 1949, after completing his master’s, Mahapatra began his teaching career as a lecturer in physics at various government colleges in Odisha including Gangadhar Meher University, B.J.B College, Fakir Mohan University, and Ravenshaw University. At the age of 22, he sent his work to the Illustrated Weekly of India, which was rejected. After that, he continued with his career in teaching
  • For two years i.e. 1976 and 1977, Jayanta Mahapatra worked as a visiting writer at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States.
  • During his teaching career, Jayanta Mahapatra visited more than 5 countries including Japan, Australia, Malaysia, and Germany. [4]Encyclopedia
  • At the age of 38, Jayanta Mahapatra started writing poems and published his first poems in his early 40s. In 1971, Svayamvara and Other Poems, his debut collection of poetry, was released. Close the Sky, Ten By Ten came out a year later.
  • Mahapatra published many poetry books over the years including  A Father’s Hours (1976), A Rain of Rites (1976), The False Start (1980), and Re-reading Jayanta Mahapatra: Selected Poems (2022). Mahapatra deals with various themes in his poems. This includes human relationships, Indian social problems, love,  marriage, morality, human nature, and Mother Nature.

    Jayanta Mahapatra at the Mumbai Poetry Festival

    Jayanta Mahapatra at the Mumbai Poetry Festival

  • Mahapatra’s long poem Relationship (1981), for which he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi prize in 1981, is among his best-known compositions. He is the first Indian poet to be awarded the title in English.
  • In his autobiography, Pahini Rati (The Night is Not Yet Over) (2016), Mahapatra discusses his studied marginalisation by the Odia literary establishment. He also said that professors and bureaucrats of both Odia and English literature have always found it easy to create identities. In his book, he also talks about his experiences as a “mere teacher of physics” who, at the age of 38, appears to have started writing poetry after being posted to B.J.B. College in Bhubaneswar later in life.

    Jayanta Mahapatra's autobiography

    Jayanta Mahapatra’s autobiography

  • His poems were initially rejected by several publishers until his poems were published in international literary journals.
  • In 1986, Jayanta Mahapatra got his superannuation, while at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Later, the same year, he also retired from his government job as the Reader in Physics in 1986.
  • He has widely worked with many types of prose in addition to poetry. His published books of prose include Green Gardener (1997), an anthology of short stories, and Door of Paper: Essay and Memoirs (2006).
  • In 2000, Jayanta Mahapatra became the editor of Chandrabhaga, Cuttack and worked as an editor for the magazine for more than 20 years. He has worked as an editor for many other magazines and publications including Eastern Times (1949), Gray Book (1972–73), and Telegraph (Calcutta) (1985–89).
  • He hosted the annual Chandrabhaga literary festival every year. [5]Outlook
  • In 2009, he was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India, but he returned it in 2015 to protest against “rising intolerance in India.” [6]The Hindu

    Jayanta Mahapatra receiving Padma Shri by the president, Pratibha Patil

    Jayanta Mahapatra receiving Padma Shri by the president, Pratibha Patil

  • Jayanta Mahapatra passed away on 27 August 2023 at the S.C.B. Medical College and Hospital Cuttack, Cuttack due to pneumonia. His last rites were performed with full state honours and as per his wishes he mentioned in his will titled ‘My last wishes’. Although he followed Christianity, he wished his body should be cremated in the electric crematorium and not be buried. He mentioned in his will that,

    My body to be cremated in the electric crematorium at Khan Nagar, Cuttack, and not to be buried. It should be taken in a van or ambulance by a few close friends and relatives who would be present at that time. This should be done as early as possible after my death, That a plot of land measuring 20ft by 20ft at the north-west corner of our existing land be given to Smt. J. Sarojini, who has faithfully and tirelessly served us for 35 years. This we (my late wife, Jyotsna Mahapatra, our son Mohan Mahapatra, and I) decided after careful consideration.”

    In his will, he also mentioned that he wanted his letters, typescripts and incomplete manuscripts to be burned after his death. [7]Odisha TV