Noted Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboodiri, popularly known as Akkitham, was declared the recipient of the 55th Jnanpith Award, the country’s highest literary honour, on Friday. Akkitham, said to be the proponent of modernism in Malayalam poetry, is 93 years old.
The award’s selection board unanimously chose the poet for the award, which includes a cash prize of Rs 11 lakh and a bronze replica of the deity Saraswati. Akkitham is the sixth Malayalam writer to be conferred this award after G Sankara Kurup, Thakazhi, SK Pottekatt, MT Vasudevan Nair and ONV Kurup.
Originally from Kerala’s Palakkad district, Akkitham has more than 43 literary works in Malayalam to his name. His work includes Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, or the legend of 20th century, which is considered to have brought modernism into Malayalam poetry, according to Malayala Manorama.
He was given the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, in 2017. The poet has also been the recipient of several other awards, including the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 1971, the Sahitya Academy Award in 1973, and the Vayalar Award in 2012.
Akkitham also worked as a journalist in several magazines. He is also known for his advocacy against social evils that are said to be prevalent in the Nampoothiri (Brahmin) community.