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St Paul’s rich archives to be brought to life in contemporary poetry

One of the UK’s leading contemporary poets will explore some of the stories behind the rich archives of St Paul’s Cathedral in a unique project taking place in the capital.

Scottish poet Imtiaz Dharker, is one of seven poets who is taking part in Through the Door, an exciting venture which will see poetry commissioned out of a variety of London archives.

Funded by Arts Council England and in collaboration with Archives for London and Poet in the City, the work at St Paul’s will see Imtiaz investigate themes that inspire and challenge her before penning unique poetry to reflect what she has discovered.

Born in Pakistan and brought up in Glasgow, Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and filmmaker who has written five books of poetry and whose work features in the British AQA GCSE English syllabus. She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2011 and in 2012 was a Parnassus Poet at the Festival of the World.

The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s, said: "In Greek mythology Mnemosyne (Memory) is the mother of the Muses. Where better, then, for a poet to work than amongst history’s archives? I am delighted that Imtiaz Dharker will be writing in reflective response to the Collections of St Paul’s. Her poems are marked by a restless but nuanced search for identity and meaning in the fragmentary and displaced. I have no doubt that she will bring her unique and forensic art to the places and objects here where human fingerprints have been left."

Sarah Hale, Cathedral Archivist, added: "We are very excited to be involved with Through the Door, and are pleased to welcome Imtiaz into the Collections. The Architectural Archive contains a wide variety of records on the history of the Cathedral which deserve further exploration and interpretation, and we look forward to reading the unique verse which will come out of this collaboration.”

In April 2014 the poems written by Imtiaz will be collated with those produced by six other poets in a published anthology, which will be launched at a special headline event to be held at the British Library in November.

Earlier in the autumn, the Cathedral's Architectural Archive will host an event at St Paul’s featuring readings from Imtiaz, as well as education workshops with local schools in collaboration with the Schools & Families Department.

The other archives taking part in the project are the British Library, Royal College of Surgeons, The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Imperial College London, Tower Hamlets Archives, and Hackney Archives.

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