Legendary Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, popularly known as Akkitham passed away on Thursday, October 15. He was aged 94. The poet was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Thrissur, according to reports, he breathed his last at 8:10 AM.

A glorious career comes to an end

Akkitham was born in Palakkad on March 18, 1926, as Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri. At the age of eight, he wrote his first poem, with the pen name 'Akkitham'. After completing his schooling in Sanskrit, Astrology, and Music, Akkitham joined college but did not complete his graduation.

Akkitham Achuthan NamboothiriWikimedia Commons

Akkitham started his career as an editor for Unni Namboothiri Magazine. He also worked as an assistant editor at Mangalodayam and Yogakshemam magazines. In 1956, he joined All India Radio.

Akkitham became a noted name in the world of Malayalam literature after the publication of Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam (Epic of the 20th Century), a khandakavya, which is widely considered as the first truly modernist poem in Malayalam. The book also won the Sanjayan award in 1952.

Some of the noted poetry anthologies he wrote in his career are Balidarsanam (The Vision of Bali), Arangettam, Nimisha Kshetram, Idinju Polinja Lokam, Amritaghatika, and Kalikkottilil.

Apart from writing poems, Akkitham has also written critical essays and short stories. He was also the part of several social movements, that includes the Paliyam Sathyagraha, a peaceful protest against untouchability in 1947. 

Awards and Recognitions

Akkitham won the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award in 1971 for Balidarshanam. The poet received two major honours in 1973, the Sahitya Akademi Award for Balidarshanam, and the prestigious Odakkuzhal Award for Nimisha Kshetram. 

In 1996, he won the Lalithambika Antharjanam Smaraka Sahithya Award. He won the Vallathol Award in 1997. The poet got Vayalar Award in 2012, and it was followed by the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram in 2016. In 2017, the nation honoured Akkitham with Padma Shri. However, he could not attend the award ceremony due to ill health, and it was the Palakkad district collector who received the honour on his behalf. In 2019, he received the Jnanpith, the highest Indian literary award.