The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry and will be presented to Dharker by the Queen in spring 2015.
The Poetry Medal Committee met at Windsor on 4th December and was unanimous in recommending Dharker as this year's recipient of the award on the basis of her 2014 collection Over the Moon and a lifetime’s contribution to poetry. All Dharker’s poetry is published in the UK by Bloodaxe Books.
The 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. She draws together her three countries: Pakistan, land of her birth, Britain and India, writing of the personal and the public with equal skill. Hers is a unique perspective and an essential voice in the diversity of English language poetry.”
Dharkerwas born in Pakistan, but grew up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow and now lives in London. She has published five books with Bloodaxe Books: Postcards from god (including Purdah) (1997); I Speak for the Devil (2001); The terrorist at my table (2006); Leaving Fingerprints (2009); and Over the Moon. As well as being a poet, she is an artist and documentary film-maker, and all her collections are illustrated with her drawings.
She said: “I still can't quite believe it. My first thought was that I wish my father were alive to hear this. In the last few weeks before he died, at almost a hundred 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 U A 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.”
Dharker joins three other Bloodaxe Books poets who have been honoured with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry: John Agard (2012), Fleur Adcock (2006) and the late R S Thomas (1964).