Imtiaz Dharker on TV & Radio & poem features

Imtiaz Dharker on TV & Radio & poem features

Photograph by Ayesha Dharker


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 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.  Her seventh book of poetry from Bloodaxe, Shadow Reader, will be published in May 2024.

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



Yorkshire Times, Poem of the Week, online Saturday 17 February 2024

‘Chaudhri Sher Mobarik looks at the loch’, Imtiaz Dharker’s ‘fine sonnet of identification and belonging’ from her sixth collection Luck is the Hook was featured as Steve Whitaker’s Poem of the Week in the online regional newspaper the Yorkshire Times on 17 February.  The poem was accompanied by Steve’s commentary.

A video of Imtiaz Dharker reading this poem at Newcastle Poetry Festival in 2018 can be see below:




Property of the BBC: Three Maps, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 17 November 2022, 1.45pm (repeated Sunday 15 January 2023, 2.45pm)

The series Property of the BBC, first broadcast in November last year, was repeated on BBC Radio 4 in January 2023. The episode featuring Imtiaz Dharker was rebroadcast on 15 January.

Poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker was BBC historian Robert Seatter’s guest on the fourth episode of his BBC Radio 4 series Property of the BBC, marking the BBC centenary.  Imtiaz contributed to the first item about the Shipping Forecast.  Forward to the end of the programme to hear her fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to read the Shipping Forecast.

‘In a week of programmes for the BBC centenary, historian Robert Seatter selects three objects from the BBC’s archive store and tells the stories behind their creation - what they tell us about the changing history of the organisation, about expansion of the media and the nation at large. Robert’s choices are unexpected, revelatory and sometimes, with the cruel benefit of hindsight, funny. In today’s programme, Robert unpacks three very different and significant maps associated with BBC output [including] a very early Shipping Forecast chart from 1925, when the famous broadcast was launched in partnership with the Met Office in order to save lives at sea. He is joined by Shipping Forecast enthusiast, the poet Imtiaz Dharker.’

The series will remain available on BBC Sounds. Listen here. Imtiaz began and ended the programme. She read the Shipping Forecast from 13:04.

Imtiaz Dharker chose the Shipping Forecast as one of her eight tracks on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on 12 July 2015.  Listen here.



Girl Reading, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 16 April 2020, 11.30am, repeated Thursday 1 December 2022, 11.30am

Zoë Comyns explores the pose of the girl reader with painters and writers. This beautiful radio feature was a BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week choice when it was first broadcast in April 2020 (the clip used was of Imtiaz's spine-tingling reading of her new poem 'Beware the Books'). The repeated edition of this 'evocative documentary' was one of Gerard O’Donovan’s Radio Choices in the Daily Telegraph of 1 December 2022.

Imtiaz Dharker contributed throughout this feature, and read her as yet unpublished poem inspired by bookshops: ‘Beware the Books’.  

‘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 made contributions at six points during the programme, and read her poem at 17:05. The feature has always remained available on BBC Sounds, and was repeated on BBC Radio 4 on 1 December 2022.

Listen here.



Reflections on Majesty: Imtiaz Dharker, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 15 September 2022, 10.45pm

Imtiaz Dharker was one of eight writers, historians and scholars invited by the BBC to reflect on majesty. The series was broadcast over eight days at various points in the Radio 4 schedule to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In Imtiaz’s tremendously moving and nuanced piece, she speaks about the times her parents, sister and daughter met The Queen, and ends with memories of her own private audience at Buckingham Palace when she was awarded The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014.  
‘Major novelists, historians and scholars describe their experience of, and relation to, the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Imtiaz Dharker reflects on her experience of the reign of Her Majesty the Queen.’

The series will remain available on BBC Sounds.  Listen here.


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.

Read the poem feature on The Guardian website 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.

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 was 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 was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme in connection with National Poetry Day on 7 October. She spoke to Justin Webb about her poem 'Choice' and about poetry more widely.

The Guardian ran an online piece about the National Poetry Day billboards on 7 October 2021.  A quote from Imtiaz Dharker featured 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.

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.

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



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.



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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