Imtiaz Dharker

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Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz Dharker at the British Library 12 April 2011.jpg
Dharker at the British Library 12 April 2011
Chancellor of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne
In office
1 January 2020
Preceded byLiam Donaldson
Personal details
Born1954 (age 64–65)[citation needed]
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Occupationpoet, artist

Imtiaz Dharker (born 1954)[citation needed] is a Pakistan-born British poet, artist and documentary filmmaker. She has won the Queen’s Gold Medal for her English poetry.[1][2] From January 2020, she will be Chancellor of Newcastle University[3]

Dharker was born in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan 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][4] 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.[5] Her daughter Ayesha Dharker, (whose father is Anil Dharker), is an actress in international films, television and stage.[6]

Literary career[edit]

Dharker has written 6 books of poetry Purdah (1989), Postcards from God (1997), I speak for the Devil (2001), The Terrorist at my Table (2006), Leaving Fingerprints (2009) and Over the Moon (2014) (all self-illustrated).[7]

Dharker is a prescribed poet on the British AQA GCSE English syllabus. Her poems Blessing and This Room were included in the AQA Anthology, Different Cultures, Cluster 1 and 2 respectively. Her poem Tissue also appears in the 2017 AQA poetry anthology for GCSE English Literature.[8] Her poem Living Space also appears in the Eduqas WJEC poetry anthology for GCSE English Literature.

Dharker was a member 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.[9] She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011.[10] In the same year, she was awarded the Cholmondeley Prize by the Society of Authors.[11] In 2011 she judged the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award with the poet Glyn Maxwell.[12] 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. In July 2015 she appeared on the popular BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs[13] and spoke about growing up in Glasgow and her decision to leave her family and elope to India, as well as her second marriage to the late Simon Powell.


The main themes of Dharker's poetry include home, freedom, journeys, geographical and cultural displacement, communal conflict and gender politics.[7] All her books are published by the poetry publishing house Bloodaxe Books. Purdha And Other Poems deals with the various aspects of a Muslim woman's life where Dharker explores the idea of oppression and violence thought to be a product through the culture of purdha.

Film and illustration[edit]

Dharker is also a documentary filmmaker and has written and directed over a hundred films and audio-visuals, centering on education, reproductive health and shelter for women and children. In 1980 she was awarded a Silver Lotus for a short film.[14] An accomplished artist, she has had ten solo exhibitions of pen-and-ink drawings in India, Hong Kong, USA, UK, and France.


  • Purdah (Oxford University Press, India, 1989)
  • Postcards from god (including Purdah) (Bloodaxe Books, 1997, ISBN 1-85224-407-0)
  • I Speak for the Devil (Bloodaxe Books, 2001, ISBN 978-1852245696; Penguin Books India, 2003)
  • The Terrorist at my Table (Bloodaxe Books, 2006, ISBN 1-85224-735-5; Penguin Books India 2007)
  • Leaving Fingerprints (Bloodaxe Books, 2009. ISBN 1-85224-849-1)
  • Over the Moon (Bloodaxe Books, 2014. ISBN 978-1780371207)
  • "The Right Word"
  • Living Space. *Another woman. (Source- English for class x in SSC Telangana)


  1. ^ a b "Imtiaz Dharker awarded Queen's gold medal for poetry". The 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Renowned poet Imtiaz Dharker named new Chancellor". Newcastle University. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Imtiaz Dharker". Poetry LiveGCSE Poetry Live!.
  5. ^ Bose, Brinda (December 2007). "The (ubiquitous) f-word: musings on feminisms and censorships in South Asia". Contemporary Women's Writing. 1 (1–2): 14–23. doi:10.1093/cww/vpm012.
  6. ^ "The Conversation". BBC World Service. BBC. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Imtiaz Dharker". Poetry International Web. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  8. ^ "BBC Bitesize - GCSE English Literature - Tissue by Imtiaz Dharker - Revision 1". Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  9. ^ AQA (2002). AQA Anthology 2005 onwards. Oxford University Press.
  10. ^ "Current RSL Fellows". The Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original Check |url= value (help) on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  11. ^ Society of Authors "The Cholmondeley Awards for Poets" Check |url= value (help). The Society of Authors. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  12. ^ Helen Bowell. "Interview with Imtiaz Dharker, Poet and Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award Judge". The Poetry Society. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  13. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Imtiaz Dharker, Imtiaz Dharker: 'Poetry makes it possible to live'". BBC. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Imtiaz Dharker". Retrieved 21 July 2015.

External links[edit]