Tim Dooley

Tim Dooley

Tim Dooley has taught English in and near London since 1974 and has been publishing poems for about the same time. He edited two editions of a small magazine called Green Lines, and later reviewed poetry regularly for the TLS. He has been an active member of two influential writers’ workshops and worked as a creative writing tutor for Arvon, Writers’ Inc and The Poetry School.

His first collection The Interrupted Dream was published by Anvil in 1985. This was followed by two smaller collections, The Secret Ministry (2001) and Tenderness (2004), both winners in the Poetry Business pamphlet competition. Tenderness was also a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice.

He won the Sheffield Thursday poetry prize in 1995 and the Blue Nose Poet-of-the –Year Competition in 2001.

He read English at Oxford and, much later, completed a research MA with the Open University on the poetry of Clough. He is Head of English and Film Studies at Rickmansworth School, Hertfordshire, is married and has two grown up sons.




'Tenderness, by Tim Dooley: a pamphlet bulging with as much charge and scope as most full collections. In Dooley’s hands, a dull convention becomes an apiary where “passion can harden/ to a dark and sticky/ concentration of cells”. A conker exposes its “coffin-shaded fruit”. Issues of tribalism and social manipulation are played out through the delight-with-violence gladiatorialism of a rugger match. Yet Dooley’s sum exceeds his image-making parts. Exploiting the lightly-clad pamphlet’s ability to flit beneath our radar he targets, from unexpected angles, such ‘big’ themes as historicity and 9-11. Suffused with humane politics, Tenderness enacts its title in the way it moves through both popular and literary motifs (vinyl discs, Narcissus) to close-stitch its fabric with subtle effects. Amalgamating poise and intellect with a thoughtful pacing of each poem’s release, Dooley injects his words into their precision mouldings with a characteristically delicate and perceptive pressure.' — PBS selection judgement



Sometimes he’s tired of being a man.
The reflection he sees, in shopwindows
or the cinema screen, takes on a sad
substance, tired and withered: ash-stains
on a shiny piece of suit cloth. 

The gents hairdressers, with its cocktail
of smells, stings him to tears.
He wants the sleep of wool or old stones,
to see nothing of enterprises or gardens,
nothing of merchandise, spectacles, lifts. 

He’s tired of his feet, of toe-clippings,
of hair everywhere. Of his shadow.
He’s just tired of being a man,
waking like a root in a dark cellar,
absorbing, thinking, counting the dead. 

And Monday is the screech of a tyre,
or a sudden petrol flare.
It sees him coming with his prison face,
sends him to hospitals where bones fall out of
the windows, to damp and vinegary stores. 

So he walks around, for peace, for forgetfulness,
past caged birds the colour of sulphur, tripe,
dentures in a coffee pot, surgical appliances,
and old men’s underclothes hanging from a line,
dripping their slow, dirty tears.


Responsible authority
looks into thefts of
bandages and bottles.

At the word agitation
my hands begin to tremble
like someone made to speak.

Titles by this author

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