Poetry to illumine world of terror


New Delhi: Through her latest book “Terrorist at my Table”, acclaimed poet and documentary filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker seeks to convey the message that “in this world of terror, light is still possible”.

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At the launch of the book in New Delhi Friday evening, Dharker said: “The book is an attempt to negotiate the territory of terror. How do we live in this kind of world, which is full of terrors? How do we live with nuances, subtlety?”

This is the fourth collection of poetry by Imtiaz Dharker who has earlier authored “Purdah”, “Postcards from God” and “I speak for the Devil”. All the books have been conceived as sequences of poems and drawings.

Written over a period of two years, Dharker’s latest offering is divided into three sequences – The terrorist at my table, The habit of departure, Worldwide rickshaw ride. Each cuts a different slice through the terror of what we think of as normal.

“The journey of this book is about the navigation from various strands of terrorism to how do we face these terrors,” said Dharker.

The poet’s equally famous daughter, Ayesha Dharker, read excerpts from “Terrorist at my Table” during the event organised by Penguin India and the India Habitat Centre. Ironically, Ayesha’s role in an internationally-acclaimed film, “The Terrorist” earned her a nomination for the National Film Award for Best Actress in 1999.

In one of the poems read out during the event, a person standing in the shadow is described variously as ” martyr”, “militant”, “guerrilla warrior”, “terrorist” and “child”. Speaking about the basis of her poems, Dharker said, “Every poem begins and ends with daily life. To live fully, in a way is an answer to the question posed by the various terrors.”

Born in Lahore, Imtiaz Dharker grew up Glasgow, Scotland. “Growing up in Scotland, there were three cultures within the house and many outside,” she said. Consequently, the trauma of cultural exile, alienation, displacement, communal conflict and journeys are the usual themes of her poetry.

Through all the uncertainties and concealments, her poems unveil the delicate thread of trust, love and sudden recognition. According to Dharker, “A poem can slide off at an angle. In the poem you can work on an emotion, take things at a different pace, rather than telling people.”