5 Minutes With Poet of the Fair – Imtiaz Dharker

5 Minutes With Poet of the Fair – Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library and has worked on several projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull, as well as with the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral. Her poems have been broadcast widely on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and on the World Service. She also scripts and directs video films and has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings.

Her new book, Luck is the Hook, is published by Bloodaxe.

Imtiaz Dharker is LBF’s inaugural Poet of the Fair. She will be in conversation with Jen Campbell on Wednesday 11 April 2018, 16:00 – 17:00, Poets’ Corner, West Hall (ground floor). The event will be followed by a drinks reception.


What was the last book you read?

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, a book that needed to be written. It’s quiet but breathtaking.

How did you buy it?

In Foyles

And what did you read it on?

I read the book. Turning pages is the only the exercise I’ve managed lately.

What’s next on your reading list?

‘The Book of Chocolate Saints’ by Jeet Thayil (whose last one was the Booker-nominated ‘Narcopolis’).

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

Lorca. He would have taken me for moonlit walks in the Alhambra.

What TV series are you obsessing over right now?

I’m catching up with Electric Dreams, based on the sci-fi stories of Philip K Dick. Also loving Black Mirror.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What three books would you want with you?

William Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’, an atlas with maps of every country in the world, ‘Staying Alive’, the anthology of poems edited by Neil Astley

Tell us what you do in 20 words.

I lie in wait at stations and in cafes, eavesdropping, trying to trap a poem on a page.

What do you like about your job?

That I can do it anywhere, even on a desert island.

Which imprints do you most admire and why?

Bloodaxe Books for changing the face of poetry in Britain.

Hurst Publishers for being fearless.

Any publisher who goes out on a limb for unusual work.

Name your favourite app and why.

Sky Map for the stars, and Flight Radar because it’s magic to know exactly which plane is overhead and where it is going.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch Changes. Heroes. Any David Bowie, even the dance tracks.

And your one from the world of fiction?

Henning Mankel. It’s amazing how many poets read murder and crime.

What was your first job?

I had a temporary job as a lecturer in a college in Bombay. It was very temporary because I was not much older than the students and I was a terrible teacher.

What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?

One of those solar-powered dancing toys, the queen waving. It was a joke that stuck because I grew fond of it.

Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.

Films. I could watch films all day and manage five on a seven-hour flight.

Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?

Malala Yousafzai, for showing how committed young people can be and answering all the cynicism in the world.

When was your first London Book Fair?

This one is my first, maybe the first of many.

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