Philosopher-poet Akkitam Achuthan Namboothiri, who was chosen for this year’s Jnanpith award said on Friday that he was happy and humbled by the honour. The 93-year-old poet, fondly known as Akkitham, who was instrumental in heralding modernism in Malayalam poetry, told reporters at his home in Palakkad that many, including Edassery and V T Bhattathiripad were great poets.
There were many contemporaries too who were deserving, he said. “Maybe I am being blessed with the honour as I have had a longer life”, he said. Akkitham said his wife Sreedevi was the pillar of strength of his poems and was saddened that she was not with him at this time. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is on a tour of Japan and South Korea, in a message said the award was a big recognition to the Malayalam language and literature.
“He played a key role, along with Communist stalwart E M S Namboothiripad and V T Battathiripad for the reformation in the Namboothiri community”, Vijayan said. G Sankara Kurup, S K Pottakkad, Thakazhi Sivasankara
Pillai, M T Vasudevan Nair and O N V Kurup are the other writers who had earlier brought the coveted laurel to the
state. A true Gandhian, social reformer, journalist and an iconic example of simplicity, Akkitham has been a man who
wears many hats with aplomb, besides his gifted literary life.
Born in a traditional Namboothiri (Brahmin) family in Kumaranallur in Palakkad district, Akkitham had trumpeted his
arrival to Malayalam literature at the age of eight by penning his first poem. He later gained recognition as poet, essayist and editor in his decades-long life besides taking part in social reform and renaissance movements.