Imtiaz Dharker – Living Space

Imtiaz Dharker picToday’s poem is by Imtiaz Dharker. Imtiaz is appearing on all round nice man Ian McMillan’s The Verb on Radio 3 on Friday 24th October at 10pm, so I wanted to feature her poem, Living Space. I feel it relates to Kei Millar’s This Zinc Roof because of the link with the fragility of the home in the developing world, where it is a metaphor for a whole country – ‘the whole structure leans dangerously towards the miraculous’.

I have also included Imtiaz reading from two of her poems on Bloodaxe, of which I particularly like, ‘They’ll say, “She must be from another country.” ‘ This is from a DVD of 30 poets reading their work.

“Imtiaz Dharker (sometimes credited as Dharkar) 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, include her own drawings. She now lives between India, London and Wales.”

Living Space

There are just not enough
straight lines. That
is the problem.
Nothing is flat
or parallel. Beams
balance crookedly on supports
thrust off the vertical.
Nails clutch at open seams.
The whole structure leans dangerously
towards the miraculous.

Into this rough frame,
someone has squeezed
a living space

and even dared to place
these eggs in a wire basket,
fragile curves of white
hung out over the dark edge
of a slanted universe,
gathering the light
into themselves,
as if they were
the bright, thin walls of faith.


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