Sitakant Mahapatra

Sitakant MahapatraSitakanta Mohapatra is a renowned Odia poet. He was born on September 17, 1937 in village Mahanga, situated on the banks of Chitrotpala, a tributary of the great Mahanadi.

Sitakant Mahapatra grew up reciting a chapter of Odia version of Bhagwad Gita in a traditional household. After his schooling from a Korua government high school, he joined Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (then affiliated with Utkal University), where he completed his B.A. in History Honours in 1957, this was followed by Masters degree in Political Science from Allahabad University in 1959. He even remained editor of the university journal. It was here that he started writing both in English and Odia, though later he decided to write poetry solely in his native, Odia realising that “a poet can express himself only in the language in which he dreams”, his scholastic works however are in English.

He took to teaching for two years at Post-Graduate Department of Utkal University, before siting for Indian Administrative Services (IAS) examination. He joined the IAS in 1961, and went on to hold several key post, including Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, President, UNESCO’s World Decade for Cultural Development (1994–1996); Senior Fellow of Harvard University; and Honorary Fellow of International Academy of Poets, Cambridge University. Presently, he is Chairman of National Book Trust, New Delhi.

He has published over 15 poetry collection, 5 essay collections, a travelogue, over 30 contemplative works, apart from numerous translations. His poetry collection have been published in several Indian languages. His notable works are, Sabdar Akash (1971) (The Sky of Words), Samudra (1977) and Anek Sharat (1981).

He was awarded the 1974 Sahitya Akademi Award in Odiaa for his poetry collection, Sabdar Akash (The Sky of Words). He was awarded the Jnanpith Award in 1993 “for outstanding contribution to Indian literature” and in its citation the Bharatiya Jnanpith noted, “Deeply steeped in western literature his pen has the rare rapturous fragrance of native soil”; he was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002, apart from winning the Soviet Land Nehru Award, Kabeer Samman and several other prestigious awards.

He is the recipient of many awards including the Jnanpith Award in 1993, Sarala Award in1985, Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award in 1971 and 1984 and Sahitya Akademi Award in 1974 and ‘Award of the Highest Honour’ by Soka University of Tokyo, 2001. In 2002, he was honoured by the Government of India with a Padma Bhushan. In 2011, he has been selected for a Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India. His poetries are not only translated in English but also in languages like German, France, Romanian, and Russian so on and so far.