One of Jackie Kay’s selected writers for the International Literature Showcase
‘Her poetry shines a light in the dark… You cannot hear her perform without being somehow transformed by the experience.’ – Jackie Kay
Poet, pen-and-ink artist, video film maker, escaped shapeshifter
Imtiaz Dharker is a poet and artist, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2014. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, she has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library and worked on several projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull, as well as the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral. Her six collections include Over the Moon and the latest, Luck is the Hook, and her poems have been broadcast widely on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as well as the BBC World Service. She also scripts and directs video films, and has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings.
‘Whether she writes of exile, childhood, politics or grief, her clear-eyed attention brings each subject dazzlingly into focus. She makes it look easy, this clarity and economy, but it is her deft phrasing, wit and grace that create this immediacy Reading her, one feels that were there to be a World Laureate, Imtiaz Dharker would be the only candidate.’ – Carol Ann Duffy
‘Hers is a strong, concerned, economical poetry, in which political activity, homesickness, urban violence, religious anomalies, are raised in an unobtrusive domestic setting, all the more effectively for their coolness of treatment’ – Alan Ross, London Magazine
‘Imtiaz Dharker’s cultural experience spans three countries: Pakistan, the country of her birth, and Britain and India, her countries of adoption. It is from this life of transitions that the themes of her poetry are drawn: childhood, exile, journeying, home and religious strife, the body as a territory’ – Ranjit Hoskote, The Times of India
‘Beautiful ambivalence…realistic details take on a surrealistic menace in another context…these poems deal very powerfully with social, religious, racial and above all sexual entrapment’ – Christopher Levenson, Toronto South Asian Review
‘Imtiaz Dharker’s poems are essentially an offering of hope in the face of violence; not just the violence of men, who, she says, have a “rare genius for revenge”, but also from our societies, and ourselves…The whole book is set up on a system of constraints, transformations, and exchange. On one hand there is the thrill of submission, the raw need of giving in, of allowed invasion; and on the other, is becoming what one has submitted to, being able to give voice to it – tongue, freedom, speech’ – Tishani Doshi, The Hindu
‘I am looking forward to the adventure of crossing borders with these writers – and the wonderful Jackie Kay’ – Imtiaz
Main image by Ayesha Dharker.