Skip to main content

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.

Comments

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

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Bree

No Mote black swans i almost didnt see but for their glowy beaks red as sumac- they didnt match the dark tones of lake, stuck out like your lust for me while i read to the children all cloistered- who could hear me even from the colonnade, all hickory and hops-vine, where i saw you watch me from inside a white willow tree. mergansers with their heads trailing swam among dead stakes of lotus. that belted kingfisher bode us a good day, and returned the children to their cages below bald cypress knees so naked i had to look away. you willowed no longer, i took leaf to mean wing, and feather to mean ivy. i took a shaded path back to the armory. it got hot and thick and i could breathe more heavily, rapt on high, no mote of hope. Bree is a poet and visual artist living in Pleasureville, KY. Her Green Panda Press has put out hand-made chapbooks, anthologies and sundry of the very small art and poetry press since 2001. In 2015 she began Least Bittern Books out of Henry County, K

June Poem Reviews

I've had fiction and non-fiction reviews published in quite a few journals and have been a member of the National Book Critics Circle, when I could afford it. Therefore, I feel quasi-professional in those arenas. I don't necessarily feel that way about my poetry reviews. I have opinions, though, and in the interest of keeping my poetry-mind occupied during an otherwise stressful time in my life, I'd like to make you, the poetry world, an offer. If you mail me your chapbook or book--at least 24 pages but no more than 100 pages, self-published or traditional--I will post a review of between 150 and 300 words about it, as professionally as I can, in the following months. Promise. Mail me your book, get a review. Easy. If I get a huge response, I'll declare a cap and communicate it here. I would prefer to work from print copies. I hate reading poetry in PDF or MOBI--my preferred methods for prose--because the lines never break correctly and I find myself critiquing lineatio