Sitakant’s poetry befits Lenore Kandel’s description of poetry as “a medium of vision and experience…bursts of perception, lines into infinity”, writes K.K.Srivastava in this review. .
Great poets may be agonizingly languid in many things–for instance, in speaking eloquent or building castles in the air about their own creations–but never in their observations; for these carry in them acts of unsoiled grace. It was a tavern, with a window-seat on which lay a copy of Thomson’s book of poetry, Seasons, that gave Coleridge his aha moment. “That is true fame!” he exclaimed. Great poetry does exactly that. It produces an aha moment for its readers. I need belabour the spirit of the above episode farther to the next plateau of current times–times of disenchantment, disagreement and disapprobation when it comes to modern poetry. Does modern poetry make sense? Is it reassuring? Or have frivolities masked it, making it effete? Critics normally attribute the enigmatic nature of modern poetry to the linguistic contrivance (rhetoric and forms) that poets use as expressive tools.
Let’s put this in the context of a book of poetry–Rotations of Unending Time–penned by Sitakant Mahapatra, who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1961 and is a prolific poet and writer with more than fifty books in different genres to his credit. He received the Jnanpith Award in 1993, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2011. The book is a collection of 42 poems written between 1963 to 2011, and translated exquisitely from Odia to English by Sura P.Rath & Mark Halperin.