Winning the prestigious title of Poet Laureate is a big honour for any poet. If Imtiaz Dharker wins, she will be in stellar company, just look at the line-up of previous Poet Laureates —John Dryden, William Wordsworth, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Cecil Day-Lewis, John Betjeman and Ted Hughes. Among all of them there has been only one female winner—Carol Ann Duffy. Going by the reports, Imtiaz Dharker will hopefully become Britain’s next Poet Laureate.
The 65-year-old Imtiaz Dharker has several feathers in her cap, an established, multi-cultural poet, she has written on a variety of topics. She writes on topics such as religion, identity, feminism, culture and the connection between them. Dharker’s poetry has reached thousands of people from many countries.
Imtiaz, once jokingly called herself a “Pakistani-Scottish Calvinist Muslim, adopted by India and married into Wales.”
Her child from her first marriage with Anil Dharker, a columnist and writer—Ayesha, is currently an actor by profession. Her second husband, Simon Powell was the founder of Poetry Live organisation. Sadly, Simon Powell passed away in the year 2009.
When one of her poems was published in the New Blood Anthology, she had written in her opening comment:
“The image of purdah for me was on the dangerous edge of being almost seductive: the hidden body, the highlighted eyes, and the suggestion of forbidden places. But of course it is also one of the instruments of power used to bring women to heel in the name of religion.”
If Dharker is honoured with this prestigious title, she will be the first from Asia and the second woman in the world to accept it. According to Daily Mail, UK, the new Poet Laureate will be decided by a committee of 15 people. British Prime Minister – Theresa May has given the job of finding the best suited person for this position to her Culture Secretary – Jeremy Wright. This committee includes current laureate Carol Ann Daffy.
When Dharker won the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry in 2014, Duffy had praised her work. She had spoken about how Dharker “drew together her three countries, Pakistan, Britain and India”, to create ‘writing of the personal and the public with equal skill.’ Whether Imtiaz Dharker writes of exile, childhood, politics or grief, her clear-eyed attention brings each subject dazzlingly into focus.”
The job description includes writing poems for major events like state occasions and for events related to the British Royal Family. The annual pay with this honour is £5,750. The Laureate will also receive 630 bottles of Sherry. Aah, we like that one!
If Dharker wins, then she will succeed Carol Ann Duffy, whose 10-year-term ends very shortly. However, few people argue that Dharker may not win because she was born in Lahore and moved to Glasgow after some time. Due to this she might not be the correct candidate for a post so ridden in the English culture. However, as Indians, we should hope for the best. Dharker is an inspiration for everyone out there, especially for young aspiring poets!
Kavya Shah is an intern at SheThePeople.TV
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