Imtiaz Dharker on TV & Radio

Imtiaz Dharker on TV & Radio

Imtiaz Dharker's poem 'Choice' featured on a special National Poetry Day 2021 billboard in Glasgow.  Photo: Julie Broadfoot

Poet, artist, 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 in March 2018.  All of Imtiaz's six poetry books are published by Bloodaxe Books. They are all illustrated with her own black and white drawings, which form an integral part of the books.



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.

A new poem by Imtiaz Dharker is included in the Scottish Poetry Library's Best Scottish Poems 2020 feature.  Read the poem 'Story' and listen to Imtiaz read it here.

Imtiaz Dharker’s sonnet ‘The trick’ from her sixth collection Luck is the Hook was featured as online Poem of the Week in the Times Literary Supplement on 21 September 2021.  The poem was first published in the TLS in 2016. Introduced By Andrew McCulloch.  Read the feature here.

Imtiaz’s beautiful love poem ‘Don’t Miss Out! Book Right Now for the Journey of a Lifetime!’ from her fifth collection Over the Moon was read and discussed by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama on the US podcast Poetry Unbound from On Being on 18 October 2021.  This is a sensitive, close reading by Pádraig Ó Tuama, who recites the poem at the beginning and end of the podcast.  Listen and read the transcript here.


NATIONAL POETRY DAY - Imtiaz Dharker poem featured on a billboard in Glasgow to mark National Poetry Day 2021

Imtiaz Dharker's poem 'Choice' from her first Bloodaxe collection Postcards from god is featured on a billboard at 313 Scotland Street, Glasgow G3 8YW to celebrate National Poetry Day.   National Poetry Day commissioned billboards across five UK cities featuring poems from local poets. Produced in partnership with creative street advertising specialists JACK ARTS, each billboard gives passers-by with the chance to tear off a poem and take it away to share with family and friends.

Imtiaz Dharker was raised in Glasgow, where her family moved when she was under a year old.  Her most recent collection Luck is the Hook includes poems about growing up in the city.


The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 7 October 2021, 8.21 am

Imtiaz Dharker was interviewed on The Today Programme in connection with National Poetry Day on 7 October. She was speaking to Justin Webb from 8.21am.

Imtiaz read the first part of her poem ‘Choice’ from Postcards from god, which is featured on a billboard in Glasgow especially for National Poetry Day. It’s on display at 313 Scotland Street, Glasgow G3 8YW.  It is one of five billboards that have gone up in cities around the UK, each featuring poems from local poets.

She spoke more widely about poetry, and mentioned Carol Ann Duffy’s WRITE Where We Are NOW initiative, which encouraged poets to write in response to the pandemic.

Imtiaz features from 02:21:35.  Available until 8am on Saturday 6 November 2021.  Listen here.

The Guardian, Lyrical tearaways, online Thursday 7 October 2021

The Guardian has run an online piece about the National Poetry Day billboards.  A quote from Imtiaz Dharker features at the top of the piece, and she has also provided a comment about her poem.  All five poems are reproduced in full in this Guardian article.   Read the article here.

‘When I wrote ‘Choice’, I was a young mother making decisions about a child’s life, thinking about power, the limits of control and the cliff edges of risk. A poem is sometimes a navigation through the anxieties of the world and I think the form follows from this, working through questions, a kind of sifting.’ – Imtiaz Dharker, The Guardian

Imtiaz Dharker reads her poem 'Choice' from the first of her six Bloodaxe collections, Postcards from god. She made this film especially for National Poetry Day 2021.



The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed: Imtiaz Dharker, BBC Radio 4, Saturday 17 July 2021, 7.15pm

Imtiaz Dharker was Simon Armitage’s guest for his BBC Radio 4 series The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed on 17 July.  A wide-ranging and delightful conversation recorded in Simon's garden shed in the Pennines. The programme ended with Simon presenting Imtiaz with a haiku he wrote for her.

Imtiaz read her own haiku ‘Made, Unmade’ from Luck is the Hook, and they also discussed her sonnet ‘The trick’ from the same collection.  She spoke about how she started combining her poetry with drawings when she was at school – her black and white drawings form an integral part of all her poetry books.

‘Poet Imtiaz Dharker was born in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Her family moved to Glasgow when she was less than one year old. A fine artist and film maker, she has won the Queen’s Gold Medal for her poetry. Seen as one of Britain's most inspirational poets, she has been heavily involved for many years in Poetry Live, an organisation bringing poetry to school students which was set up by her late husband. She describes herself as a "Scottish Muslim Calvinist" adopted by India and married into Wales. Her poems talk about journeys both geographical and cultural displacement, which she also discusses with her friend and fellow poet Simon Armitage along with pomegranates, Mumbai and hand made paper.’

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage was given first publication by Bloodaxe Books. His debut collection Zoom! is still available.

Listen here


The Scotsman, The Scotsman Sessions #190: Imtiaz Dharker, online Wednesday 24 February 2021

Imtiaz Dharker was interviewed for The Scotsman Sessions ahead of her virtual appearance (sold out) at StAnza International Poetry Festival in St Andrews in March 2021.  A film of her reading ‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’ and ‘The Trick’ from Luck is the Hook was accompanied by an interview.

‘In her seven collections of poetry, all illustrated with her own intricate drawings, she moves skilfully between the personal and the public.’ – Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman

‘I don’t write to send a message but I do believe everything – even the intensely personal – has a political context. Poetry speaks back to the whole messy business of living with everything it has. It speaks with the body, the rush of blood to the heart and the music of being human.’ – Imtiaz Dharker, The Scotsman Sessions #190

Read the feature 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.  Imtiaz read 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

Imitaz 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.

[19 July 2021]

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