DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: Luck is the Hook 

Friday 5 March 2021

There’s an unexplained comfort in reading Luck is the Hook despite many of the poems dealing with pain and, often, discomfort. Each one contains a space devoid of explanation, a sacred place of intimacy for both the poet and the reader.

Awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014, Luck is the Hook is Imtiaz Dharker’s seventh collection of poetry illustrated with 23 of her own drawings. These are black and white, each image relating to particular poems, and in their stylistic simplicity create a sense of unity within the collection. All drawings share a common sense of mystery, conveying emotions and allowing the reader to fully immerse himself (or herself) in the book and poet’s thinking.

Dharker’s use of metaphorical language has the exquisite capability of turning poems on their head and challenging preconceptions. In ‘Six pomegranate seeds’, both the title and the first stanza, which describes how the seeds burst on the tongue, suggest a descriptive, naturalistic poem. However, the second stanza brings an unexpected shift in tone, transcending what the pomegranate seeds are into:

the taste of the world I remembered,
the colour of gardens
before I threw away the sun.

Dharker brings these lines to life, creating a tonal intimacy, but still preserves its universal, impersonal reach, taking the world and the way people interact to a mystical, surreal level. There are poems where elephants walk across the frozen Thames and where pieces of broken china shift to create a new, wise, patient entity. Here swearing and praying is difficult to distinguish and only the rain can tell them apart. Not only her themes, but also her language contribute to the otherworldly effect. Dharker’s descriptions are clever, vivid and evocative....


This is an excerpt of a review by Dominik Szczepaniak of Imtiaz Dharker Ilya Kaminsky's Deaf Republic. For more information on Kaminsky at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.