Poet Imtiaz Dharker has turned down the poet laureateship, the highest honour in British poetry, to focus on her work, The Guardian reported on Friday.
Dharker was born in Lahore, Pakistan, grew up in Glasgow and lived in Mumbai for several years with her former husband and writer Anil Dharker, according to The Telegraph. Her daughter Ayesha Dharker is an actress who was nominated for a National Award for her performance in the Tamil film The Terrorist.
The British Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by the United Kingdom’s monarch on the advice of the prime minister. Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009 for a fixed 10-year term, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
Dharker would have been the first Asian laureate and the second woman to hold the post.
Dharker told The Guardian it was a huge honour to be considered for the role. “I had to weigh the privacy I need to write poems against the demands of a public role,” she said. “The poems won. It was a huge honour to be considered for the role of poet laureate and I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support and encouragement from all over the world.”
The Sunday Times had reported last week that Dharker was due to be announced Poet Laureate this month. However, no formal offer was made to or accepted by any candidate for the laureateship, and the selection process is still under way, according to The Guardian.
Dharker collection of poems include Purdah (1989), Postcards from God (1997), I speak for the Devil (2001), The Terrorist at My Table (2006), Leaving Fingerprints (2009) and Over the Moon (2014). She received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014 and appears frequently on the popular BBC Radio 4 programme, Poetry Please.
The post of Poet Laureate dates back to 1616. “There is an expectation that the holder will write verse for significant national occasions”, according to The Telegraph.