Jayanta Mahapatra, born on 22 October 1928 in Cuttack ( India ), belongs to a lower middle-class family. He
had his early education at Stewart school, Cuttack . After a first class Master's Degree in Physics, he
joined as a teacher in 1949 and served in different Government colleges of Orissa.
All his working life, he taught physics at different colleges in Orissa. He retired in 1986. Mahapatra has
authored 18 books of poems. He started writing poetry at the age of thirty-eight, quite late by normal
standards. Mahapatra's tryst with the muse came rather late in life. He published his first poems in his
early 40s. The publication of his first book of poems, Svayamvara and Other Poems, in 1971 was followed by
the publication of Close the Sky, Ten By Ten.
His collections of poems include A Rain of Rites, Life Signs and A Whiteness of Bone. One of Mahapatra's
better remembered works is the long poem Relationship, for which he won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1981. He
is the first Indian English Poet to receive the honor. Besides being one of the most popular Indian poets of
his generation, Mahapatra was also part of the trio of poets who laid the foundations of modern Indian
English Poetry. He shared a special bond with A. K. Ramanujan, one the finest poets in the IEP tradition.
Mahapatra is also different in not being a product of the Bombay school of poets. Over time, he has managed
to carve a quiet, tranquil poetic voice of his own--distinctly different from those of his contemporaries.
His wordy lyricism combined with authentic Indian themes puts him in a league of his own.
His recent poetry volumes include Shadow Space, Bare Face and Random Descent. Besides poetry, he has
experimented widely with myriad forms of prose. His lone published book of prose remains The Green Gardener,
a collection of short stories. A distinguished editor, Jayanta Mahapatrahas been bringing out, for many
years, a literary magazine, Chandrabhaga , from Cuttack . The magazine is named after Chandrabhaga, a
prominent but dried-up river in Orissa.
His Vision of Poetry:
“To Orissa, to this land in which my roots lie and lies my past
and in which lies my beginning and my end..." declared the
poet in his Award-receiving speech at the Sahitya Akademi, New
The clue to understand Mahapatra’s poetry is given by the poet
“My poems deal with the life within myself where the mind tries
to find a sort of coherence from the mass of
things in the world outside it.”
(quoted in Sunday Observer, May 27th, 1984)
In the following is a scanned version of the poet's auto
biography published in Contemporary Authors-
Autobiography Series (published by Gale Research, Detroit ),
The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974 - 2008
E-35/103, Jawahar Park Laxmi Nagar,
Delhi 110 092
Price: Rs 350 USD 15
Year of Publication 2009
"a powerful haunting image of the world made and remade through the ordinary instinct" --
Journal of Commonwealth Literature
In this comprehensive volume, Jayanta mahapatra, who has been called the "finest multicultural poet writing in India" brings his own choice of the finest poems he has written over past thirty five years. A revelatory selection for readers who are familiar with his work, and for readers who are coming upon his impressive poetic acheivement for the first time.