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Shadow Reader by Imtiaz Dharker
Poetry Book Society Special Commendation Summer 2024

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Shadow Reader is a radiant criss-cross of encounters, messages and earthy Punjabi proverbs, shot through with the dark thread of an unwelcome prophecy. The poems bind this looming curse to the colonisation of countries, the earth and its creatures, those who own the story and those who redirect it through art or artifice. ‘Does the warp look back at the one who is weaving and say, This is not how I remember it…?’Imtiaz Dharker’s new collection pays attention to wilful erasures, exclusions and also to places of sanctuary.

This is poetry as music, as momentum, as the texture and taste of languages, joyously sensuous and rich in images. While it acknowledges the everyday and its shadows, it is also an irreverent, playful celebration of life. Imtiaz Dharker grew up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow, was adopted by India and married into Wales.

She was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2014 for her fifth collection Over the Moon and for her services to poetry. Her main themes are drawn from a life of transitions: childhood, exile, journeying, home, displacement, religious strife and terror, and latterly, grief. She is also an accomplished artist, and all her collections are illustrated with her drawings, which form an integral part of her books.

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