Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014
Imtiaz Dharker 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.
Luck is the Hook is her sixth book from Bloodaxe. In these poems, chance plays a part in finding or losing people and places that are loved: a change in the weather, a trick of language, a bomb that misses its mark, six pomegranate seeds eaten by mistake; all these events cast long shadows and raise questions about who is recording them, about believing, not believing, wanting to believe.
A knot undone at Loch Lomond snags over Glasgow, a seal swims in the Clyde, a ghost stalks her quarry at a stepped well, an elephant and a cathedral come face to face on the frozen Thames, a return ticket is thrown into the tide of Humber, strangers wash in. Even in an uncertain world, love tangles with luck, flights show up on the radar and technology keeps track of desire.
Imtiaz Dharker was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2014 for her fifth collection Over the Moon and for her services to poetry.
‘Imtiaz Dharker’s poetry shines a light in the dark. She is interested in how things work, in art, in history, in politics… You cannot hear her perform without being somehow transformed by the experience. Witty, wise, profound and moving, her work crosses continents. Carol Ann Duffy once said if there was to be a world laureate, it would be Dharker. Agreed.’ – Jackie Kay, The Guardian
'Luck is the Hook by Imtiaz Dharker is my stand-out book of poetry this year. Lyrical with a compassionate humanity, Dharker’s poems have a piercing, deceptive simplicity of image and language, particularly the poems about the loss of her husband and her bereavement...Her poems have great musicality, written for the ear as much as the page. A striking performer, it is particularly pleasurable to hear her read. A talented artist, her repetition of concepts or images in new contexts weaving throughout the book is a technique echoed in the black and white drawings illustrating the book, their delicacy and simplicity of tonal patterns evoking the essence of each poem’s theme. An exquisite, deeply moving collection.' - Stephanie Green, Glasgow Review of Books (Reads of the Year, 2018)
‘My 2018 began with Imtiaz Dharker’s Luck is the Hook. Subtle and rewarding, it's a gem of a book.' – Jane Commane, Morning Star (Poetry Books of the Year 2018)
'Dharker, winner of the Cholmondeley Awards, received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for a body of work shortly after her quiet, moving and sophisticated 2014 collection Over the Moon in memory of her late husband, Simon Powell. Her seventh book, Luck is the Hook, continues to consider joy, sorrow and uncertainty, but focuses on chance and fate and expands the parameters to include history, mythology and language, as well as Dharker’s childhood in Glasgow.' - Muneeza Shamsie, Dawn
'Imtiaz Dharker is one of the UK's most celebrated poets and Luck is the Hook is a book of lived experience, by a writer at the peak of her powers... an extraordinary collection that unpicks the weighty themes of love and loss with originality in our provisional, shifting world.' - Sarah Westcott, ARTEMISpoetry
‘Luck is the Hook is a robust, rich and beautifully illustrated collection. It’s touching, nostalgic, heartwarming and humorous, offering an exquisite glimpse at our world, appreciating it for those things that remain hidden, omitted, not talked about. This book should be spoken about, enjoyed and returned to.’ - Dominik Szczepaniak, Dundee Review of the Arts
‘This is a passionate, uplifting collection of poems about language, love and loss, grief and joy, elegy and celebration. The loss of a great love makes poems of piercing beauty. In her finest book to date, Imtiaz Dharker finds resolution in language itself, and in a world the more loved for the sharpness of loss.’ – Gillian Clarke [on Over the Moon]
'Imtiaz Dharker's new collection is the crown to a celebratory, humane, wholly utterable, subtly crafted poetry. Its dark jewels are the magnificent poems of bereavement, which will surely endure. Reading her, one feels that were there to be a World Laureate, Imtiaz Dharker would be the only candidate.' - Carol Ann Duffy [on Over the Moon]
Imtiaz Dharker reads from Luck is the Hook at Newcastle Poetry Festival
Imtiaz Dharker reads these poems from Luck is the Hook in the above videos:
‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’
‘Six pomegranate seeds’, ‘Fix’ and ‘Warning’
‘The Elephant is walking on the River Thames’ and 'First sight, through falling snow’
‘This Tide of Humber’
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.
Imtiaz Dharker at Newcastle Poetry Festival 2023
Imtiaz Dharker reads the poem 'Chaudhri Sher Mobarik Looks at the Loch' from Luck is the Hook, followed by 'Undone' from Over the Moon, and then ‘The Trick’, also from Luck is the Hook. The rest of the reading features several new poems from Shadow Reader, published by Bloodaxe in May 2024.
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