Imtiaz Dharker calls herself a Scottish Muslim Calvinist, brought up in a Lahori household in Glasgow, working in Bombay. She is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker and all her books – Purdah, Postcards from God, I Speak for the Devil and The Terrorist at my Table and Leaving Fingerprints – include her own drawings. She now lives between India, London and Wales.
We talk to Imtiaz …
What Are They Whispering? – when the urge comes to write a poem, what does it say to you?
It tells me to pay attention. Pay close attention to every detail of this image, this moment, this living thing. Scratch and scratch at it to see if you can get past the skin.
What are you working on at the moment?
I can’t talk about a poem I’m working on. It’s a superstitious thing, the suspicion that if I talk about it I’ll give away its soul.
What Are They Whispering? is a poetry show about power. What superpower would you like to possess, and why?
My superpower would be to heal everything I touch. No, really I’d like to fly.
Do you spend a lot of time travelling the country, giving readings? How does life on the road affect your writing?
I’m out on the road all the time with Poetry Live, reading to students and travelling with other poets. It’s the most inspiring thing in the world. Poems turn up like people you meet at stations, on trains, under the sheets in strange hotels, in greasy spoons. How does the road affect my writing? The road is the writing.
Who would you like to see in the audience for a What Are They Whispering? performance?
In the audience I’d like to see anyone who has an open mind and anyone who hasn’t.
What are the most powerful words anyone has ever spoken to you?
‘Now you’re old enough to learn some shame’