Cambridge University Library Imtiaz Dharker

Cambridge University Library


Cambridge University Library, one of the great research libraries of the world, has been central to the work and teaching of the University for six hundred years. It holds more than eight million books and periodicals, a million maps, and many thousands of manuscripts, occupying over a hundred miles of shelving. Our collections vary hugely in age and content, from Chinese oracle bones from the second millennium BC to the latest online scientific journals. There is a regular programme of exhibitions, open to the general public free of charge, where highlights from the collections can be enjoyed by all.

Image: Ono no Komachi

This painting of the Japanese poet Ono no Komachi is from an eighteenth-century scroll depicting ‘thirty-six poetic geniuses’. Ono no Komachi is famous in Japan for her intense descriptions of unrequited love. Above her is written one of her poems, in which the image of a flower gradually changing its colour is used to evoke the fluctuations in her emotions. (FJ.1000.10)

Imtiaz Dharker


Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker. She was born in Lahore, grew up in Scotland, worked for many years in India and now lives between Mumbai, London and Wales. Her collections of poems include Purdah (Oxford University Press), Postcards from god, I speak for the devil and The terrorist at my table (all published by Penguin India and Bloodaxe Books UK) and Leaving Fingerprints (Bloodaxe Books UK). Her poems have been widely broadcast on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC World Service and on television. She is a poet on the UK national curriculum and performs at Poetry Live! events across Britain, to over 70,000 students a year. She has had ten solo exhibitions of drawings in India, London, New York and Hong Kong. All of her books of poems also contain her drawings. She scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organisations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.

Imtiaz Dharker


When the copperplate cracks (Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) Imtiaz Dharker

So this is how it is done, one hand inching

round the coast to map its ins and outs,

to mark the point where ink may kiss

the river’s mouth, or blade make up

a terra incognita, an imagined south.


This is where the needle turns to seek

a latitude, where acid bites the naked shore

and strips the sea till it is nothing

more than metallic light. The lived terrain

comes face to face with its mirror image


on the page, the world made up

and made again from sheets of ore, slept in,

loved in, tumbled, turned until the copper

buckles. You see it clearly in the print,

the place where metal


has been wounded, mended, where the hand

attempts to heal the breakline in the heart.

Cambridge University Library


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When the copperplate cracks

21st May 2013 | one Comment(s) | Cambridge University Library

Błażej Mikuła is a filmmaker, photographer and journalist. His new project, Poetronica is an independent video production website , that is committed to producing and publishing poetry videos. He made two poetry films with Thresholds poet Imtiaz Dharker while she was in residence at the University Library.

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