Imtiaz Dharker on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions

Imtiaz Dharker on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions

'Weaving between her distinctive illustrations and powerful poems, Dharker expresses the most profound concern for humanity.' – Jo Clement, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin 2024, on Shadow Reader


Imtiaz Dharker's seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, Shadow Reader, was published in May 2024. It is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation for Spring 2024. As with all of her poetry books, it is illustrated with her own black and white drawings, which form an integral part of the book. Shadow Reader follows her 2018 collection Luck is the Hook

Poet, artist and filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for Over the Moon, her fifth book of poetry from Bloodaxe.  She has also received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Over the Moon was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2014. Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus, and she reads with other poets at Poetry Live! events all over the country to more than 35,000 students a year.  In 2020 she was appointed Chancellor of Newcastle University. Imtiaz was born in Pakistan, grew up in Glasgow, and lived in India for many years.  She has been based in London since 2003.

Imtiaz Dharker is a regular contributor to BBC Radio. Many of the programmes she has presented or been interviewed on have been chosen for BBC Radio 4's Pick of the Week.


Saturday Live, BBC Radio 4, forthcoming Saturday 15 June 2024, 9-10am

Imtiaz Dharker will be a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live on 15 June.  She’ll be speaking about her new collection Shadow Reader, and will be in conversation with host Nikki Bedi and fellow guests Ashley John-Baptiste and Danny Robins.

The programme is now broadcast live from Cardiff.  Listen live or after broadcast via BBC Sounds:

Imtiaz Dharker shared her ‘Interitance Tracks’ on Saturday Live on 19 May 2018.  This feature is still available to listen to on BBC Sounds and is downloadable as a podcast.



We’d Like A Word podcast, episode 21: Khushwant Singh Lit Fest: Indian, Pakistani & Bangladeshi authors, online 5 June 2024

Imtiaz Dharker was interviewed for an episode of the We’d Like A Word podcast recorded at the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival at which she was giving a reading from her new collection Shadow Reader.  She was speaking to co-host Jonathan Kennedy.

‘In this special We'd Like A Word India episode at the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival, co-hosts Paul Waters & Jonathan Kennedy (standing in for Stevyn Colgan) hear ideas from top authors of fiction, non-fiction, memoir & poetry & other experts.’  Guests included ‘poet Imtiaz Dharker on her latest collection, Shadow Reader

Imtiaz spoke about her background and about her poetry, in particular her aim to find the music in a poem, and to let rhyme to ‘drip through the middle of a poem’.  She spoke about her new collection and read her poem ‘For the Minicab Driver Who Looked as if He Needed Feeding’ from Shadow Reader.

Imtiaz features from 58:56.  Listen via Spotify here.



Private Passions: Imtiaz Dharker, BBC Radio 3, Sunday 26 May 2024, 12pm-1.30pm

Poet, artist and filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker was Michael Berkeley’s guest on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions on 26 May. Over the course of this 90-minute programme she spoke about her life, poetry, drawings, and her choice of musical pieces, which Michael described as ‘a rich tapestry of music’.  

Michael Berkeley referred to Imtiaz’s poem ‘Campsie Fells’ from her 2006 collection The Terrorist at My Table. He also spoke about her collection Over the Moon, for which she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014. At 36:26 Imtiaz talked about the drawings which feature in all her poetry books, explaining how the poems and the drawings flow into and amplify each other.

Imtiaz read her poem ‘Night Walk with Blackbird’ from Shadow Reader, her seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, and later spoke about the true story of the prophesy she received from a Shadow Reader when she was a young woman. Her poems about his unwelcome prophesy are scattered through the collection.

‘Michael Berkeley's guest is the poet Imtiaz Dharker, who was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014.’

Imtiaz reads her poem ‘Night Walk with Blackbird’ at 42:19. She spoke about the background to Shadow Reader at 1:08:57.  The programme will be available on BBC Sounds in this full 90-minute version until 1.30pm on 25 June 2024, after which it will be replaced with a version with shorter musical clips.


Imtiaz was Kirsty Young's guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 17 July 2015.



Imtiaz Dharker, Amanda Dalton and Katie Donovan launched their new collections online with Bloodaxe on 21 May 2024, joining from their homes in London, Hebden Bridge and Dublin.  The poets read from their new books Shadow Reader, Fantastic Voyage and May Swim, and discussed them with each other and with the host, editor Neil Astley. Excellent readings by all three poets, followed by a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion about writing in response to loss, and also about how their work in other areas – art, drama and therapy - feeds into their poetry.


Imtiaz Dharker: Shadow Reader

Imtiaz Dharker reads and introduces a selection of poems from Shadow Reader. All her poetry collections are illustrated with her drawings, which form an integral part of the books; she is one of very few poet-artists to work in this way. This video includes some of the drawings from Shadow Reader showing their visual connections with particular poems from the book. Neil Astley filmed her reading from her new collection at her home in London in January ahead of the book’s publication in May 2024.




Larkin Revisited: Talking in Bed, BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 10 August 2022, 1.45pm

Imtiaz Dharker joined Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to talk about and read from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Talking in Bed’ for the third episode of this BBC Radio 4 series Larkin Revisited. Simon Armitage introduced her by saying: ‘Imtiaz Dharker is also a poet with a talent for clarity, and the author of intimate, sensual poems.’

‘Across ten programmes and ten Philip Larkin poems, Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, finds out what happens when he revisits and unpicks Larkin's work in his centenary year.’

Imtiaz features from 02:09. Listen via BBC Sounds here.

Imtiaz Dharker’s new poem ‘Swiping left on Larkin’ was featured in The Guardian of 9 August 2022, marking 100 years since the birth of the great English poet. Imtiaz is an honorary vice president of the Philip Larkin Society.  In her introductory piece to her poem, Imtiaz wrote about Larkin more generally. She highlighted his poem ‘Talking in Bed’, which she also discusses with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in the above Radio 4 series Larkin Revisited

‘Swiping left on Larkin’ was subsequently published in Imtiaz's seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, Shadow Reader (2024).

Read the poem feature on The Guardian website here.


Breakfast, BBC Radio 3, Monday 2 September 2019, 6.30-9am, 20 December and 25 December 2019

Imtiaz Dharker was specially commissioned for the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast's Carol Competition 2019. Amateur composers around the country were challenged to set the text of this poem to music. Presenter Petroc Trelawny launched the competition on the 2 September edition of Breakfast.  He introduced the poem, which was then read by Imtiaz Dharker.

The six shortlisted musical settings of Imtiaz Dharker’s poem were all played on Breakfast, performed by the BBC Singers, and the winner was chosen by Radio 3 listeners. The highest ever number of votes was recorded this year, and the winner was announced on Breakfast on 20 December.  The winning carol was played again on the Christmas Day edition of Breakfast.

The winning setting was by Chris Black, an NHS doctor from Wetherby, also a Newcastle University alumnus. A happy coincidence - Imtiaz Dharker had recently been named the next Chancellor of Newcastle University and took up her post in January 2020.  Chris Black was interviewed by Petroc Trelawny, and spoke very warmly about Imtiaz's poem.  

Listen to the winning carol and the five other finalists here, where you can also read the poem, and hear Imtiaz read her poem 'Go to the Child’. 

'Go to the Child' was subsequently published in Imtiaz's seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, Shadow Reader (2024).


The Documentary: Sweeping the World, BBC World Service, Tuesday 5 February 2019

Imtiaz Dharker wrote and presented this half-hour documentary feature for BBC World Service. She wrote a new poem for this, and it was intercut into the programme.

‘Imtiaz Dharker presents a reflective evocation of the broom, in words, sound and music.’

A clip from Imtiaz’s poem and one of the interviews she conducted was chosen for BBC Radio 4’s Pick of the Week on Sunday 10 February 2019.

Listen here.

Imtiaz's new poem 'Sweeping' is now published in her seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, Shadow Reader (2024).

[22 May 2024]

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