Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Salt Modern Poets
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
198 x 129mm

Imagined Rooms


The poems in Imagined Rooms invite the reader in Philip Gross’s words ‘to take it all in’. Written between the 1970s and the start of the Clinton and Blair era, they display a voracious imagination, a freedom with language and a hard-bitten compassion. A worthy companion to Keeping Time, also published by Salt, Imagined Rooms is global in its outlook, making what was once strange or distant immediate and present. It offers a view on a world where there is no place to hide and where, in Dooley’s paraphrase of Jaccottet, the poet’s role is to name and look out for ‘every item left at risk’.

Reviews of this Book

‘Dooley deals with whatever comes – news, memories, encounters, dreams: nothing is out of bounds.’ —PHILIP GROSS , Poetry Review

‘Dooley seems to me among the handful of writers today trying to work towards a serious, intelligent poetry of the people – something that is neither frivolous verse nor poetry built for the seminar room’ —PETER SANSOM , Orbis

‘The measured, meditative manner sometimes quickens into a loping inclusiveness of definition, or breaks out in arresting tight-lipped urgencies (including urgent uncertainties) of perception.’ —CLAUDE RAWSON , TLS

‘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.’ —MARIO PETRUCCI , PBS Bulletin

‘Dooley is that rarest of things, both a public and private poet. Whilst other poets might retreat to domestic subject matter to reflect personal or private insight, Dooley does not shrink from big historical moments and demonstrates seamlessly how such moments inform our inner lives. Perhaps what endures most is his fierce poetic defence for, and belief in, the strength of the human spirit, often in the face of oppressive political forces that threaten to engulf the self. The characters in these poems, and one suspects the poet himself, are searching for something that feels more real; as such, much of the poetry in this collection offers an alternative, an escape route from the standardised and artificial. He is not only a poet of our time but a poet that is needed for our times.’ —CHRISTOPHER HORTON , Eyewear

‘Tim Dooley has a wide-ranging literary mind, but the poems are anything but “literary” in effect – their references and details are very much of the here-and-now, their tones extremely contemporary. There is a keen political awareness at work in many pieces. It is what has happened since the 1980s, imbued with its own strange doublespeak, its mood of incomprehension and defeat that Dooley pins down in sketches of lives adrift and hopes under threat. It makes for a poetry of thoughtful, unshowy resonance, that can also be very funny’ —ALAN JENKINS and EVA SALZMAN , PBS Bulletin

‘Dooley’s poems could not be more varied in their line-lengths from long, rolling cadences to ultra-precision. One unifying factor is Dooley’s consistently humane vision and concern for the disaffected and inarticulate. Dooley has argued that the condition of poetry is not soliloquy but “colloquy”, and he makes an implicit case for the underground power of art.’ —DAVID WHEATLEY , TLS

‘Tim Dooley's Imagined Rooms is for the most part a collection of poems from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Thirty-five of the fifty-five poems are in Dooley's first collection, The Interrupted Dream. If this is put together with Dooley's critically successful collection of 2008, Keeping Time, the greater part of Dooley's published work is now available from Salt. Twelve of the poems in Imagined Rooms are in a form peculiar to Dooley, which consists of three eight-line stanzas where the lines vary in length, and achieve a shapely configuration to match the twists and turns of Dooley's perception. They shift rapidly between personal, historical and political concerns. Dooley's poems written in the Thatcher era seem exemplary of the defeated liberal consciousness that lived through that time and which was briefly revived at the end of the millennium, only to be defeated again.’ —James Sutherland Smith, The Bow Wow Shop

‘Tim Dooley’s Imagined Rooms shows how, in a quiet, contained register it’s possible to be both trenchantly personal and – well, trenchantly political. In a personal way. The poems were written in the 70s and 80s – you can feel it in lines like “The Trident is doing its diagonal overhead drone”, or “Optimists of agitprop rehearse in the / co-operative restaurant…” – and, sure enough, it is all feeling strangely prescient now. Or strangely plus ça change.’ —Katy Evans-Bush, Baroque in Hackney