Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014
Shadow Reader is a radiant criss-cross of encounters, messages and Punjabi proverbs, shot through with the dark thread of an unwelcome prophecy. The poems bind this looming curse to the occupation of countries, the earth and its creatures, those who own the story and those who redirect it through art or artifice. ‘Does the warp look back at the one who is weaving and say, This is not how I remember it…?’
Imtiaz Dharker’s collection pays attention to wilful erasures, exclusions and also to places of sanctuary. This is poetry as music, as momentum, as the texture and taste of languages, joyously sensuous and rich in images. While it acknowledges the everyday and its shadows, it is also an irreverent, playful celebration of life.
Imtiaz Dharker grew up a 'Muslim Calvinist' in a Lahori household in Glasgow, was adopted by India and married into Wales. She was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2014 for her fifth collection Over the Moon and for her services to poetry. 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.
With 16 black and white drawings
‘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.’ – 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)
‘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 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.
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.
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