Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014
Imtiaz Dharker was born in Pakistan, grew up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow, was adopted by India and married into Wales. Her main themes are drawn from a life of transitions: childhood, exile, journeying, home, displacement, religious strife and terror, and latterly, grief. She is also an accomplished artist, and all her collections are illustrated with her drawings, which form an integral part of her books. Leaving Fingerprints is her fourth book from Bloodaxe.
In these poems, the only thing that is never lost is the Bombay tiffin-box. All the other things which are missing or about to go missing speak to each other – a person, a place, a recipe, a language, a talisman. Whether or not they want to be identified or found, they still send each other messages, scattering a trail of clues, leaving fingerprints.
‘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.
‘Here is no glib internationalism or modish multiculturalism… Displacement here no longer spells exile; it means an exhilarating sense of life at the interstices. There is an exultant celebration of a self that strips off layers of superfluous identity with grace and abandon, only to discover that it has not diminished, but grown larger, generous, more inclusive’ – Arundhathi Subramaniam, Poetry International.
‘Her lucid and quiet, but strong, voice provides new insights into these troubled areas…living in a world, not just an adopted city, that is beset by terror, religious fundamentalism and the distrust/fear of the other’ – Nilufer Bharucha, Wasifiri
‘Her poems are strongly personal: intimate yet international …This wise and sensitive book shows poetry’s place in political debate, when it is crafted with skill and the intrigue of understatement’ – Martyn Halsall, Church Times.
'Were there to be a World Laureate, Imtiaz Dharker would be the only candidate' – Carol Ann Duffy.
Imtiaz Dharker reads five poems
Imtiaz Dharker reads five poems: 'Blessing' from Postcards from god, 'Honour killing' and 'They'll say, "She must be from another country"' from I Speak for the Devil, and 'The terrorist at my table' and 'How to cut a pomegranate' from The terrorist at my table. This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets (2008), filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley, which includes five poems read by Imtiaz Dharker selected from her first three Bloodaxe titles.