Imtiaz Dharker

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Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz Dharker at the British Library 12 April 2011.jpg
Imtiaz Dharker at the British Library 12 April 2011
Born 1954
Lahore, Pakistan
Nationality British
Occupation poet, artist

Imtiaz Dharker (Born 1954) is a Pakistan-born British poet, artist and documentary filmmaker. She has won the Queen’s gold medal for her English poetry.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dharker was born in Lahore to Pakistani parents. She was brought up in Glasgow where her family moved when she was less than a year old. She was married to Simon Powell, the founder of the organization Poetry Live, who died in October 2009 after surviving for eleven years with cancer.[1][2] Dharker divides her time between London, Wales, and Mumbai. She says she describes herself as a "Scottish Muslim Calvinist" adopted by India and married into Wales.[3] Her daughter Ayesha Dharker, {whose father is Anil Dharker}, is a well-known actress in international films, TV and stage.

Literary career[edit]

Dharker has written five books of poetry Purdah (1989), Postcards from God (1997), I speak for the Devil (2001), The Terrorist at my Table (2006) and Leaving Fingerprints (2009) (all self-illustrated).[4]

Dharker is a prescribed poet on the British AQA GCSE English syllabus. Her poems Blessing and This Room are included AQA Anthology, Different Cultures, Cluster 1 and 2 respectively. Imtiaz Dharker was part of the judging panel for the 2008 Manchester Poetry Prize, with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke. For many she is seen as one of Britain's most inspirational contemporary poets.[5] She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011.[6] In the same year, she was awarded the Cholmondeley Prize by the Society of Authors.[7] In 2011 she judged the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award with the poet Glyn Maxwell.[8] In 2012 she was nominated a Parnassus Poet at the Festival of the World, hosted by the Southbank Centre as part of the Cultural Olympiad 2012, the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK, bringing together poets from all the competing Olympic nations. She was the poet in residence at the Cambridge University Library in January–March 2013.


The main themes of Dharker's poetry include home, freedom, journeys, geographical and cultural displacement, communal conflict and gender politics.[4] All her books are published by the poetry publishing house Bloodaxe. Purdah And Other Poems deal with the various aspects of a Muslim woman's life where she experiences injustice, oppression and violence engineered through the culture of purdah.

Film and illustration[edit]

Dharker is also a documentary filmmaker and has scripted and directed over a hundred films and audio-visuals, centring on education, reproductive health and shelter for women and children. In 1980 she was awarded a Silver Lotus for a short film.[9] An accomplished artist, she has had ten solo exhibitions of pen-and-ink drawings in India, Hong Kong, the USA, the UK and France.



  1. ^ a b "Imtiaz Dharker awarded Queen’s gold medal for poetry". The 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Imtiaz Dharker". Poetry LiveGCSE Poetry Live!. 
  3. ^ Bose, Brinda (December 2007). "The (ubiquitous) f-word: musings on feminisms and censorships in South Asia". Contemporary Women's Writing (Oxford Journals) 1 (1-2): 14–23. doi:10.1093/cww/vpm012. 
  4. ^ a b "Imtiaz Dharker". Poetry International Web. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  5. ^ AQA (2002). AQA Anthology 2005 onwards. Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ "Current RSL Fellows". The Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Society of Authors "The Cholmondeley Awards for Poets". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Helen Bowell. "Interview with Imtiaz Dharker, Poet and Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award Judge". The Poetry Society. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Imtiaz Dharker's Official website

External links[edit]