Noted poet, columnist, artist and documentary-maker Imtiaz Dharker has been awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2014 for her latest collection, ‘Over the Moon’, joining past winners such as W H Auden, Stephen Spender and Philip Larkin.
Dharker, who was previously married to Indian columnist Anil Dharker, was born in Lahore in 1954, and grew up in Scotland. She is the mother of British-Indian actress, Ayesha Dharker.
Some of her poems are included in syllabus in schools in the United Kingdom. She has previously been awarded by the President of India with 'Silver Lotus' for the best short film, and the Balraj Sahni Award by the All India Artists Association.
The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry is given for a book of verse published by someone from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm. Recommendations are made by a committee of eminent men and women of letters, under the chairmanship of the Poet Laureate.
Buckingham Palace announced that Dharker would be the 2014 recipient of the prestigious prize created in 1933 by George V at the suggestion of the then poet laureate John Masefield. It will be presented to Dharker in 2015.
The current poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, said: “Whether Imtiaz Dharker writes of exile, childhood, politics or grief, her clear-eyed attention brings each subject dazzlingly into focus. She makes it look easy, this clarity and economy, but it is her deft phrasing, wit and grace that create this immediacy.”
Duffy said Dharker drew together her three countries, Pakistan, Britain and India, to create “writing of the personal and the public with equal skill”.
She added: “Hers is a unique perspective and an essential voice in the diversity of English-language poetry. It is a moral force – a force for good and a force for change – that refuses to see the world as anything less personal than an extended village of near neighbours sharing in common struggles for how best to live.”
Dharker said: “My first thought was that I wish my father were alive to hear this. In the last few weeks before he died, at almost 100 years old, he didn’t always remember his children, but did speak of the Queen with great admiration. The fact that this is her medal for poets, an award from her, feels very personal to me.
She added: “It also feels like a connection to a whole line of poets who have been my heroes, all the way from Auden to UA Fanthorpe to John Agard. It reminds me how Britain has opened its heart to many kinds of poetry and somehow recognised and made space for the unexpected voice.”