Muneeza Shamsie in Dawn:
Last winter, the Lahore-born poet Imtiaz Dharker consolidated her reputation as a mainstream British poet with her powerful and moving sixth collection, Over The Moon, which won her the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. The award, which was established in 1934 for Commonwealth writers, has been given to eminent poets ranging from Robert Graves and Derek Walcott to Ted Hughes and Fleur Adcock, but Dharker is the first recipient of South Asian origin.
Over the Moon is a spellbinding work, dedicated to Dharker’s late husband, Simon Powell, with the words “not because you died, but how you live”. Her collection is a poetic communication with him in which absence and memory are enriched and intertwined by an interplay of music, light and sound to convey both life and loss and worlds beyond the corporeal: Powell permeates the book as an ever-present, beloved, living spirit. Dharker grew up in Glasgow, with a strong awareness of Pakistan which she visited with her family and later spent several years in Bombay. Her book begins with a sequence rooted in Dharker’s subcontinental heritage and the cultural symbiosis so intrinsic to her poetry, and indeed her sense of self. ‘Taal’ captures the movements of time through the whirling imagery of music and dance.