Imtiaz Dharker on Film & Radio

Imtiaz Dharker on Film & Radio


Poet, artist and film-maker Imtiaz Dharker was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for her fifth collection Over the Moon.  Her sixth, Luck is the Hook, was published by Bloodaxe on 29 March 2018.  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.

Imtiaz Dharker became Chancellor of Newcastle University on 1 January 2020.  More on this here.

Imtiaz Dharker's poem 'I need' from her 2006 collection The terrorist at my table was featured in The Guardian's Poems to get us through column of 30 April 2020, as chosen by former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.  'Her work is full of a deep relish for all the world has to offer – food, travel, colour, love – and a lip-smacking relish for words themselves.'  Read the column here.



Every Little Touch, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 11 October 2020, 4.30pm - a BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week

Imtiaz Dharker was interviewed for this very moving Radio 4 feature about touch. Fellow Bloodaxe poet Sarah Jackson, author of Tactile Poetics: Touch and Contemporary Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2015) was also interviewed. Her debut collection Pelt was published in 2012. 

Imtiaz spoke about falling for and then losing her husband Simon Powell, and read her poem ‘Stab’ from her fifth collection Over the Moon.  

Over the Moon is Imtiaz Dharker’s beautiful and deeply moving collection of poems dedicated to her husband Simon Powell, who died in 2009.  In the poem ‘Stab’, Dharker’s operating at the absolute limit of language, and it conveys the impossibility of speaking and writing in the face of grief.’ - Noo Saro-Wiwa, presenter of Every Little Touch

‘Whether it’s the missing hug of a parent, the affirmation of a handshake, or the grabbing of a handrail on a bus, the boundaries of our sense of touch have changed in recent months. In this programme, as part of Radio 4’s Touch Test week, the writer Noo Saro-Wiwa gives her personal perspective on poetry’s relationship with touch, and speaks to modern poets about what it means to them now. With extracts from Thom Gunn, Anne Carson, Alfred Tennyson, Imtiaz Dharker and Sarah Jackson’s book Tactile poetics, and music by Jonsi.’

Imtiaz is interviewed at 00:54 and then again from 21:33.

Listen here (available until 16 November 2020).


Imtiaz Dharker was in conversation with the Scottish Makar (National Poet of Scotland) Jackie Kay on Makar2Makar on 5 June 2020, with music from Suzanne Bonnar. A moving mix of poetry, conversation and song.  Imtiaz read poems from several of her Bloodaxe collections:  Luck is the Hook (‘The trick’, ‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’, Over the Moon ('Speech Balloon' 'I swear', 'In Wales, wanting to be Italian, 'Hiraeth, Old Bomby) and I Speak for the Devil  (They’ll say, ‘She must be from another country'’), along with some new poems. The video is on YouTube here.

Read more about Imtiaz, including her recommended library and bookshop, on the Makar to Makar website here.

A separate clip from the end of the event, in which Imtiaz reads 'I swear' and her new poem 'Cranes Lean in', has been posted here.



Girl Reading, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 16 April 2020, 11.30am

Imtiaz Dharker contributed to this Radio 4 feature on images of girls reading.  She read her unpublished poem inspired by bookshops: ‘Beware the Books’.  Girl Reading was a BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week on 19 April, and the clip used was of Imtiaz reading her poem.

‘Zoë Comyns meets painter Anastasia Pollard, writers Imtiaz Dharker, Karen Joy Fowler, Samantha Ellis, Katie Ward and art historian Riann Coulter to explore the pose of the girl reader. This programme draws the listener into the frame of paintings by Simone Martini, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Johannes Vermeer, Gwen John, Louis le Brocquy, Henri Fantin-Latour and Harry Herman Roseland to evoke the scene and what the act of reading signifies. Art historian Riann Coulter describes the artworks and unpicks why so few seem to be painted by women.

Writers discuss what and where they read as a girl. Poet Imtiaz Dharker recalls learning the Quran and visiting her local library - she recites ‘Beware the Books’, in which a girl finds sanctuary in a book shop, but a trickier path through the books she encounters.’

Imtiaz contributes at various points during the programme, and reads her poem at 17:05. Listen via BBC Sounds here.



English Literature GCSE: Imtiaz Dharker on her poem 'The Right Word'

Hip-hop star Akala meets the poet Imtiaz Dharker to discuss how her poem 'The Right Word' from her 2006 Bloodaxe collection The terrorist at my table explores the power of language amidst the backdrop of the War on Terror.  This book is a GCSE set text.

Young poets also help Akala breakdown the language and meaning of the poem from the perspective of young people actively engaged in poetry.

This clip is from the series Poetry: Between the Lines.  Fellow Bloodaxe poets John Agard and Grace Nichols were also filmed for this series.

Click here to view this 5-minute film with Imtiaz Dharker and Akala.  Teachers' notes accompany the film. This film was broadcast on BBC Two in 2014 on Poetry: Between the Lines.


EX LIBRIS podcast, Episode 3: Imtiaz Dharker, 19 November 2019

Imtiaz Dharker gave an hour-long interview to Ben Holden for the EX LIBRIS podcast – a series in which the world’s greatest writers are interviewed in their favourite libraries and bookshops.  Imtiaz chose to meet in Paris’s Shakespeare & Co. They were in conversation with the shop’s proprietor, Sylvia Whitman.

This fascinating discussion was punctuated with Imtiaz’s readings of her poems ‘Burka’, ‘Heavenly Emporium’ and ‘The trick’ (the latter from Luck is the Hook).

‘Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, selected the iconic Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare and Company as her Ex Libris venue. In this episode, released to coincide with the store’s centenary, Imtiaz and Ben are joined by the famed shop’s proprietor, Sylvia Whitman. They sit and chat on one of the tumbleweed beds that are made available in the shop’s library to aspiring writers. We are transported in this conversation not just to Kilometre Zero of Paris, on which faultline the shop resides, but also to a hinterland of imagination and wonder, thanks to Imtiaz’s poetry and the rich 100-year old history of Sylvia’s home.’

Other writers interviewed so far for the EX LIBRIS podcast series are Ken Follett, Jacqueline Wilson, Bart van Es and fellow Bloodaxe poet Benjamin Zephaniah (episode 7).


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’.


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

Imtiaz Dharker presented a half-hour documentary feature for the BBC World Service, a reflective evocation of the broom, in words, sound and music. She wrote a new poem for this, and it was intercut into the programme.  A BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week choice (as have been many of Imtiaz Dharker's previous radio features and interviews).

Listen via The Documentary’s webpages:

Imtiaz also presented the four-part world poetry series Mother Tongue on Radio 4 from 1 to 22 September 2019, but this is no loger available to listen to.



The Poetry Programme, RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 23 September 2018, 7.30pm

Half-hour interview with Imtiaz Dharker recorded in Armagh when she was there for the John Hewitt Summer School in July 2018.

Imtiaz spoke very movingly to Olivia O'Leary about her upbringing in Glasgow and  the effect that her elopement had her parents – subjects she addresses in poems in her new collection Luck is the Hook . They also disucssed religion, her drawings (Imtiaz illustrates all her collections) and her late husband Simon Powell, founder of GCSE Poetry Live!. Imtiaz continues to tour with Poetry Live!, along with the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Simon Armitage, John Agard, Grace Nichols and others, bringing live poetry to 25,000 young people across the UK each year.

Imtiaz read two poems from her first Bloodaxe title, Postcards from god, ‘Prayer’ and an extract from ‘Purdah II’, and ‘The right word’ from her 2006 collection The terrorist at my table.  She began and ended the interview with poems from her new collection Luck is the Hook – ‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’, ‘Stitch’, ‘Lapis Lazuli’ and the beautiful love poem ‘To have all this’.

‘Imtiaz Dharker enthralled audiences with her readings at this year’s John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh… Among her many awards is the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.  Imtiaz joins Olivia to talk about her life and poetry, and she reads some early poems and some from her latest collection, Luck is the Hook, published by Bloodaxe in 2018.’

Click here to listen.


Front Row, Inspire Season, BBC Radio 4, 7.15pm, Friday 10 August 2018

Imtiaz Dharker contributed to Front Row’s Inspire season on 10 August.  She was recorded on one of her favourite walks in central London.

‘As part of our Inspire season, poet Imtiaz Dharker explains why walking through the city streets in the early hours gives her inspiration.’

Final item, from 22.33. Click here to listen.

Imtiaz Dharker also spoke to Front Row about Luck is the Hook on 19 April. Click here to listen. Last item & podcast.

If you'd like to hear more about Imtiaz's walks through London, and how this helps her writing process, her half-hour BBC World Service interview In the Studio: Imtiaz Dharker from May 2017 is still available to listen to. Click here to listen


The Cultural Front Line, BBC World Service, Saturday 23 June 2018

Imtiaz Dharker contributed to the BBC World Service’s The Cultural Front Line on 23 June.  She was speaking about the 1987 film Wings of Desire directed by Wim Wenders.  This was a film that changed her approach to art and had a big influence on her poetry and her drawings.  The item was tagged to her new collection Luck is the Hook.

‘the award-winning poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker on the film that showed her that art can be a rich tapestry.’

Click here to listen. Final item, from 22.00.


Saturday Live, Inheritance Tracks, BBC Radio 4, Saturday 19 May 2018, 9-10.30am

Imtiaz Dharker's Inheritance Tracks were broadcast on Radio 4' Saturday Live on 19 May 2018.  She speaks about the music she inherited from her parents and listened to when she was growing up in Glasgow, and the track she wants to pass on to her daughter.  On the day of the Royal Wedding, she also spoke about her own 'poetry wedding' to the late Simon Powell, founder of Poetry Live!. 

Imitaz's Inheritance Tracks are available to download and listen again here.


Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 19 April 2018, 7.15pm

Imtiaz Dharker was interviewed live on Front Row on 19 April about her new collection Luck is the Hook.  She spoke to Stig Abell about chance, what feeds her imagination and about how she is never quite sure when she takes up a pen whether a poem or a drawing will be the result.  When he asked her how she would like people to respond to the collection, she said ‘I want them to… feel jostled to an edge.  I want them to hang by their fingertips, as I did in some of the poems.’

Imtiaz read her beautiful sonnet ‘The trick’ on the programme, and then read two further poems for the podcast: ‘The Elephant is walking on the River Thames’, followed by a haiku ‘First sight, through falling snow’.  All three are from Luck is the Hook.

Imtiaz Dharker also contributed to the first item about the Windrush (from 7.47), and spoke aobut how poets from the Caribbean such as James Berry, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, John Agard and Grace Nichols (all Bloodaxe poets) had enriched British poetry.

First and last item & podcast. She joins the Windrush discussion from 7.47). To listen, click here.



'This Tide of Humber': the final poem in Luck is the Hook

Imtiaz Dharker participated in the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in 28 September-October 2017.

Her long poem 'This Tide of Humber' was performed twice in Hull on Saturday 30 September 2017. JoinedUp Dance Company presented a new piece of contemporary dance inspired by this specially commissioned poem.  The poem is now included in collection Luck Is the Hook, which takes its title from a line in the poem. 

A film showing Imtiaz Dharker working with the dancers and reading the poem can be seen here.


Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Friday 29 September 2017, 7.15pm

Imtiaz Dharker
was interviewed on this live edition of Front Row being broadcast from Hull in front of an audience.  She read an excerpt from ‘This Tide of Humber’.  This specially commissioned poem  will be broadcast in full on Radio 4 at a later date.  It was performed live twice at the Contains Strong Language festival in Hull on 30 September 2017.

Click here to listen.

Imtiaz Dharker has written about ‘This Tide of Humber’ in The Rialto.

Click here to listen to Imtiaz  read her beautiful poem 'Thaw' from to mark the winter solstice on Front Row on 21 December 2017.  Both poems are now published in Luck is the Hook.

Poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2014, was the castaway on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 12 July 2015. 
Kirsty Young asked Imtiaz to speak about two of her poems: ‘Campsie Fells’ from The Terrorist at My Table and ‘Alan or David or John’ from Over the MoonImtiaz’s poem about the boy across the road whom she’d fallen in love with as a girl.  There are also poems in Leaving Fingerprints that cover ground discussed in the interview: ‘Barkat’, about her mother’s hospitality, and ‘Green spiked hair’, about running away from home, and then later encountering her father at Heathrow airport.
This conversation with Kirsty prompted some of the poems in Imtiaz's sixth collection Luck Is the Hook, in particular those about growing up in Glasgow.
Click here to listen.
Imtiaz Dharker: ‘Poetry makes it possible to live': clip from Desert Island Discs interview available here.  
Imtiaz Dharker was The London Book Fair's first ever 'Poet of the Fair' in April 2018).  A five-minute interview Imtiaz gave to The London Book Fair can be read here.

[22 February 2020]

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