Saturday 27 April 2024

Imtiaz Dharker, "Shadow Reader"


Imtiaz Dharker, photo by Ayesha Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014, Chancellor of Newcastle University. Her seven collections, all published by Bloodaxe Books, include Over the Moon and the latest, Shadow Reader. Her poems have featured widely on BBC radio, television, the London Underground, Glasgow billboards and Mumbai buses. She has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings and also scripts and directs video films, many of them for non-government organisations working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children in India. 

About Shadow Reader
Shadow Reader is a radiant criss-cross of encounters, messages and Punjabi proverbs, shot through with the dark thread of an unwelcome prophecy. The poems bind this looming curse to the occupation of countries, the earth and its creatures, those who own the story and those who redirect it through art or artifice. ‘Does the warp look back at the one who is weaving and say, This is not how I remember it…?’ Imtiaz Dharker’s collection pays attention to wilful erasures, exclusions and also to places of sanctuary. This is poetry as music, as momentum, as the texture and taste of languages, joyously sensuous and rich in images. While it acknowledges the everyday and its shadows, it is also an irreverent, playful celebration of life.

You can read more about Shadow Reader on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From Shadow Reader, by Imtiaz Dharker

You write a window 
This is how you labour through the night
at the kitchen table, tallying up again,      
again, to get the merciless numbers right.
You weigh the loss against the gain,

the  plumbing or the heating, the buzzing thing
that has to be plugged in to work, switched on
to keep the household running. You are writing
your life in figures. He is gone                           

and you are awake in the sonnet of a window,
the chiming of a house where children come
and stay. The paper blazes white. The shadow
at your shoulder knows your will. This room,

this page is the sum of all you have to say
and all you have to give, you give away.

With empty hands

It’s life that is the visitor, it comes and goes,
a guest with many faces.
It flickers for a second on the face of time
and brings no gifts for the host.

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