Legendary Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Nampoothiri, 93, won the Jnanpith Award, the highest literary prize in India for outstanding contribution towards literature. The award was announced in New Delhi on Friday .
He is the sixth Malayalam writer to win the prestigious award. He penned scores of poems, including the landmark Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, or the legend of 20th century, which is believed to have brought modernism in Malayalam poetry. He had also written numerous short stories and plays, apart from translating articles from English.
He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2017. He had won Ezhuthachan Award in 2008. Akkitham worked with V.T. Bhattathirippad to fight social evils that had been prevalent in the Nampoothiri (Brahmin) community.
Born to Vasudevan Nampoothiri and Parvathy Antharjanam on March 18, 1926 in Kumaranelloor in Palakkad district, Akkitham studied Sanskrit, music and astrology at the Kumaranelloor school. He joined for intermediate in Zamorin's Guruvayoorappan College in Kozhikode, but he left the college without completing the course.
Akkitham wrote his first poem when he was just eight years old. What sharpened his skills was his interactions with acclaimed writers, such as Edassery, Uroob and Nalappatt Narayana Menon at the Ponnanikkalari—a writers' collective based in Ponnani in Malappuram district. He had also participated in India's freedom movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi.