Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014
An anguished god surveys a world stricken by fundamentalism in these powerful poems by a writer whose cultural experience spans three countries: Pakistan, the country of her birth, and Britain and India, her countries of adoption. 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.
Postcards from god was her first book from Bloodaxe. It combines two collections published separately in India, Purdah (1989) and Postcards from god (1994).
In Purdah she memorialises the betweenness of a traveller between cultures, exploring the dilemmas of negotiation among countries, lovers, children. Postcards from god meditates upon disquietudes in the poet's chosen society: its sudden acts of violence, its feuds and insanities, forcing her into a permanent wakefulness that fits her eyes with glass lids.
If the poems collected in Purdah are windows shuttered upon a private world, those gathered into Postcards from god are doorways leading out into the lanes and shanties where strangers huddle, bereft of the tender grace of attention.
'The poems are amplified by powerful black and white drawings by the author. The line is Imtiaz Dharker's sole weapon in a zone of assault which stretches over the Indian subcontinent's bloody history, the shifting dynamics of personal relationships and the torment of an individual caught between two cultures, divergent world-views' - Ranjit Hoskote, The Times of India
‘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.
'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.