Hindi poet Kunwar Narayan wins India's top literary award

Wed Oct 7, 2009 4:09am EDT
 
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NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - Iconic Hindi poet Kunwar Narayan has won India's top literary award, the Jnanpith, to celebrate a career spanning more than forty years.

India's President Pratibha Patil bestowed the award on Narayan during a ceremony Tuesday in New Delhi.

Narayan, 82, has received numerous awards in India and abroad and is often regarded as the leading living Hindi-language poet in the country.

"When I got to know that I have been selected for the award, I was happy. My dedication toward literature and my inner creative urge has always inspired me to remain engaged in reading and writing," Narayan told reporters after the ceremony.

Born in 1927, Delhi-based poet Narayan published his first book in 1956.

He has since then published five poetry collections, one collection of fiction, a long narrative poem, three works of literary criticism and several translations of the works of literary greats including Jorge-Luis Borges.

The Jnanpith award, whose name means the pinnacle of knowledge, was established in 1961 to honor Indian citizens who write in any of the official languages of India.

Before 1982, the award was given to a single work by a writer. Since then, it has been awarded for a lifetime contribution to Indian literature.

Previous recipients for writing in Hindi have included Sumitranandan Pant (1968), Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (1972) and S.H.V. Ajneya (1978)

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)