Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BBC Spiritual Journeys: Imtiaz Dharker


Imtiaz Dharker


My wife hipped me to this poet a couple days ago. I've been mulling over the BBC program and her poetry, and feeling parochial. I've reached the point where what I like is what I like, and while I'm pretty open, especially when it comes to poetry, there's nothing like getting a blast of perspective from another culture entirely to make you feel small and wan against the big body that is world poetry.
The poet, artist and film-maker Imtiaz Dharker was born a Muslim in Lahore, Pakistan and educated at a school with a strict Protestant ethic in Glasgow where her family moved to when she was a child.
When growing up she began to question and challenge the restrictions of her religion, particularly on women, and poetry was a place where she could do this.
The titles of some of her poetry collections reflect the issues she grapples with: Postcards from God, I Speak for the Devil, and The Terrorist at my Table.
In her recent collection Leaving Fingerprints, Imtiaz Dharker has been inspired by the Sufi poets and attracted by their belief in the continuous recreation of the self.
However, Imtiaz Dharker is far too earthy and sensual to want to be labelled as merely a 'spiritual writer'.
Presenter: Bidisha
Producer: Kate Howells


Here's a poem from her site. I tried to find the poem 'Honour Killing' online, as it seems her most well-known but couldn't locate it. Which means another book purchase. Meh (not really).


The Right Word

Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.

Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.

I haven't got this right .
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.

Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.

God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.
  
No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child who looks like mine.

One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.

I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.

The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.

2 comments:

  1. This poem very effectively transitions from humor to... something else. Thanks for introducing me to her work.

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