Happy Birthday Ramakanta Rath

Bhubaneswar: Celebrated Odia poet Padma Bhushan Ramakanta Rath turned 85 today. Fans of Rath including his contemporary litterateurs united today to make the day a memorable one.

Newly built Geetagobinda Bhawan here was packed with fans and authors from different parts of the state to mark the day. Ramakanta Rath and his wife Shanti were seen on dias.

Most remarkable moment of today’s celebration was all senior poets and authors including Padma Vibhushan Sitakant Mohapatra, Soubhagya Kumar Mishra, Rajendra Kishore Panda, Shantanu Kumar Acharya, Satakadi Hota, Haraprasad Das, Dash Benhur and Pratibha Satpathy were also present on dias to greet Rath and to lauch his collection of essays ‘Kabi Kathan’. The book was published by Pakshighar.

The evening was completely dedicated to Ramakanta Rath. His fans recited his famous poems, sung his songs and recounted memorable moments with Rath.

Poet Banoj Tripathy and Mihir Kumar Sahu were curating the event.

Ramakanta Rath, born on 13 December 1934, is one of the most renowned modernist poets in the Odia literature. He experimented greatly with form and style. The quest for the mystical, the riddles of life and death, the inner solitude of individual selves, and subservience to material needs and carnal desires are among this philosopher-poet’s favorite themes.

Rath’s poetry betrays a sense of pessimism along with counter-aesthetics, and he steadfastly refuses to put on the garb of a preacher of goodness and absolute beauty. His poetry is full of melancholy and laments the inevitability of death and the resultant feeling of futility. The poetic expressions found in his creations carry a distinct sign of symbolic annotations to spiritual and metaphysical contents of life.

Often transcending beyond ordinary human capabilities, the poet reaches the higher territories of sharp intellectualism. The contents have varied from a modernist interpretation of ancient Sanskrit literature protagonist Radha in the poem “Sri Radha” to the ever-present and enthralling death-consciousness espoused in “Saptama Ritu” (The Seventh Season).

Ramakanta Rath was born in Cuttack. He obtained his MA in English Literature from Ravenshaw College (now University)  He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1957, but continued his writing career. He retired as Chief Secretary of Odisha after holding several important posts in the Central Government such as Secretary to the Government of India. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1977, Saraswathi Samman in 1992, Bishuva Samman in 1990 and India’s 3rd highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan in 2006. He was the Vice President of the Sahitya Academy of India from 1993 to 1998 and the President of the Sahitya Akademi of India from 1998 to 2003, New Delhi.

In February 2009 he was awarded a Sahitya Akademi Fellowship by the Sahitya Akademi, the fifth Odia writer to be so honoured.

A number of his poems have been translated into English and other Indian languages.

He has more than 15 anthologies of poems to his credit including SriRadha, SriPalatak, Kete Dinara, Aneka Kothari, Sandigdha Mrigaya, Saptama Ritu, Sachitra Andhara.

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