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Noted Malayalam poet Akkitham wins 55th Jnanpith award, Padma Shri awardee says he's humbled by the honour

Akkitham said his wife Sreedevi was the pillar of strength of his poems.

PTI|
Nov 30, 2019, 01.57 PM IST
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​​Akkitham has authored 55 books out of which 45 are collections of poems including 'Khanda Kavyas', 'Katha Kavyas', 'Charitha Kavyas' and songs. ​
Akkitham has authored 55 books out of which 45 are collections of poems including 'Khanda Kavyas', 'Katha Kavyas', 'Charitha Kavyas' and songs.
NEW DELHI | THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Eminent Malayalam poet Akkitham has been chosen for the 55th Jnanpith Award, the Jnanpith Selection Board announced on Friday.

"The Jnanpith Selection Board has announced the recipient of the 55th Jnanpith Award for the year 2019 today in a meeting. It went to Shri Akkitham, eminent Indian poet writing in Malayalam," the board said in statement.

On receiving the honour, the philosopher-poet said on Friday that he was happy and humbled by the honour.

Born in 1926, Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, popularly known as Akkitham is one of the most revered names in Malayalam poetry. The 93-year-old poet told reporters at his home in Palakkad that many, including Edassery and V T Bhattathiripad were great poets. There were many contemporaries too who were deserving, he said.

"Maybe I am being blessed with the honour as I have had a longer life", he said.

Akkitham said his wife Sreedevi was the pillar of strength of his poems and was saddened that she was not with him at this time.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is on a tour of Japan and South Korea, in a message said the award was a big recognition to the Malayalam language and literature.

"He played a key role, along with Communist stalwart E M S Namboothiripad and V T Battathiripad for the reformation in the Namboothiri community", Vijayan said.

G Sankara Kurup, S K Pottakkad, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, M T Vasudevan Nair and O N V Kurup are the other writers who had earlier brought the coveted laurel to the state.

A true Gandhian, social reformer, journalist and an iconic example of simplicity, Akkitham has been a man who wears many hats with aplomb, besides his gifted literary life.

Born in a traditional Namboothiri (Brahmin) family in Kumaranallur in Palakkad district, Akkitham had trumpeted his arrival to Malayalam literature at the age of eight by penning his first poem.

He later gained recognition as poet, essayist and editor in his decades-long life besides taking part in social reform and renaissance movements.
His works have also been translated into many Indian and foreign languages.
His works have also been translated into many Indian and foreign languages.

Apart from poetry, his literary excellence has footprints in genres like drama, reminiscence, critical essays, children literature, short stories and translation.

"A poet of rare integrity, a creator of many works, all considered as classics, Akkitham's poetry reflects unfathomable compassion, imprints of Indian philosophical and moral values and a bridge between tradition and modernity, delves deep into human emotions in a fast changing social space," the statement by the board chaired by novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray, said.

Others on the decision making body included Madhav Kaushik, Shamim Hanfi, Harish Trivedi, Suranjan Das, Purushothama Bilimale, Chandrakant Patil, S Mani Valan, Prabha Varma, Asghar Wajahat and Madhusudan Anand.

Akkitham has authored 55 books out of which 45 are collections of poems including "Khanda Kavyas", "Katha Kavyas", "Charitha Kavyas" and songs.

Some of his celebrated creations include "Veeravadam", "Balidarsanam", "Nimisha Kshethram", "Amrita Khatika", "Akkitham Kavithaka", "Epic of Twentieth Century" and "Antimahakalam".

A Padma Shri awardee, he has won several literary accolades including the Sahitya Akademi Award (1973), Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (1972 and 1988), Mathrubhumi Award, Vayalar Award, and Kabir Samman.

His works have also been translated into many Indian and foreign languages.

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