Pradeep Biswal 

His poems always speak of love and loss in life. He has written thousands of love poems but when quipped about the inspiration behind such poems he avoids it with an enigmatic smile. People say Phani Mohanty is a renowned poet of neo-romanticism of Odia poetry. His poetry collection ‘Priyatama‘ in the seventies brought him immense popularity among the readers. Since then he has published dozens of poetry collections and is still active in the field of creative writing.

He is always an inspiration for the young poets and his abode Puspadhanu is a place of attraction for the young as well as the veteran thanks to the warm hospitality extended by his wife Puspa Mohanty who herself is a short story writer in her own right.

Puspa is his eternal soulmate and the lovebirds never leave each other. Phani Mohanty got both Odisha Sahitya Academy and Central Sahitya Akademi awards for his poems.

Priyatama – A popular poetry collection of Phani Mohanty

He hailed from a village a few kilometres away from Bhubaneswar and at an early age, he lost his father. With many difficulties and with help from his close relatives he struggled to complete his higher education and immediately got posted as a lecturer at Bargarh college. Here he met his soulmate Puspa, then a student in the college.

It was love at first sight for him but his age and caste difference stood in his way. Somehow he got to convince her parents and ultimately got her hands in marriage to him. Then he got transferred to N.C. College, Jajpur and his poetic journey took a firm footing in the cultural rich soil of Jajpur. Subsequently, he served in different colleges and retired as a Reader in a government college at Cuttack. In between, for a brief period, he served as Deputy Director in the School Education Directorate.

I had come in contact with the great poet in the early eighties when he was Secretary of Lekhak Sammukhya, a literary outfit in Bhubaneswar enjoying the patronage of the Chief Minister late J. B. Patnaik. I used to attend their sessions. Simultaneously, he used to edit a quarterly literary journal ‘Sanjog’. He encouraged young writers like me to contribute to the magazine.

In the seventies, a poetry movement ’Anam’ was launched in Puri under the leadership of Kumar Mohanty, himself a firebrand poet. Although this movement could not last for long Phani Mohanty was a major voice there.

My intimacy with him and his family developed around 2001 when both of us were invited to attend bilingual poetry meet in Chennai organised by Odisha Sahitya Academy and a Tamil poetry group in Chennai.

He was accompanied by his wife who was known to most of the participants. We came into close contact there and on return from Chennai, we had frequent meetings at his house. We became family friends. His wife cemented the bond between both the families through her love and affection.

After retirement from government service Shri Mohanty devoted full time to creative writing. He has been published widely in different magazines and journals. His poems have been translated into English and other languages and got published. He has been attending literary meetings in different parts of the state from Balasore to Sundergarh and outside.

He has retained his youthful vigour to date. Age is just a number for him now in his late seventies. He has also edited some anthologies of Odia poems translated into English. His love for life and literature is undying. As a poet, he is very soft-hearted and compassionate. He had a  pet dog at his home.

One day when I reached his house he sobbed profusely before me. I was flabbergasted. Then I came to know that the dog has died that morning out of illness. He was unable to face the bereavement. This speaks of a true poet.

(Mr. Pradeep Biswal is a bilingual poet writing both in Odia and English. His poems are widely anthologized. He is also an editor and translator of repute. A retired IAS Officer, Mr. Biswal presently holds the position of Member, Odisha Real Estate Regulatory Authority and stays with his family at Bhubaneswar. Views are Personal)

Tags: #PhaniMohanty #Priyatama #OdishaSahityaAcademy #Sanjog #OdiaPoetry #LekhakSammukhya

10 COMMENTS

  1. Very nice article,excellently written by Pradip sir..Worth reading.my regards to Phani sir and pradip sir .thanx

  2. This is an impressive account on life and works of a true poet like Phanijee.Really a nice read.Thanks for this post.

  3. Dr Phani Mohanty is himself an institution . His depth knowledge in literature is absolutely enchanting and captivating. After reaching to the culmination of literature he is not aways from his humility and soft behaviour . He is one of the legends who is respected by every literature lover.

  4. Dr Phani Mohanty is himself an institution. words are less to describe him . journey from a middle class family to Kendra Sahitya Academy is highly inspiring for all. After reaching to the culmination of literature he is not away from humility and soft behaviour. His contribution to indian literature is remarkable and indelible

  5. It’s beautifully crafted to communicate common people with the imagination of a great love-bird of Odia poetry…
    Though I do know that writing is your passion, still on someone else is a difficult task… N to be honest, this article compelled me to draw my attention…

  6. Your pieces are so human and heart touching Sir. Whether it is a life experience or a personality, you capture their essence in a few words! Compelling reading as always!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here