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PERSONAL ESSAY (SHORT MEMOIR)
“A mathematician,” G. H. Hardy wrote, “like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns." Throughout his childhood, Jim Tilley was encouraged to discover such patterns by way of mathematical puzzles his father posed for him to solve. Never satisfied with ordinary solutions, his father insisted on mathematical elegance. More comfortable in the realm of the mind, he could never bring himself to give Tilley a hug; they'd merely shake hands on parting. Both father and son set standards for intellectual achievement so high it was difficult to ever be satisfied. Now, as his father loses his grip on his mind in old age, Tilley, concerned that he is glimpsing his own future, looks back on the decisions he has made in his life and tries to locate the points at which ambition and drive crossed the line into unhealthy obsession.
POETRY (FULL-LENGTH BOOKS)
The release date for "Lessons from Summer Camp" is April 8, 2016.
In "Lessons from Summer Camp," Jim Tilley takes a fifty-year retrospective look at a ten-year period during his childhood and adolescence to discover what summer camp was really about. In both a wistful and an appreciative look back on the days of our youth, the poems reminisce on the memorable events of those summers, from fire-lighting contests at Council Ring, to races in war canoes during Tribal Games, learning to swim, and writing letters home—to the inevitable sadness of departing at the end of the summer, saying goodbyes at the station until next year. The poems evoke memories of experiences we’ve all shared and bring perspective to how lessons from summer camp often become apparent only later in life.
“Cruising at Sixty to Seventy” is a collection of Dear Wife, Dear Self, and Dear Friends poems written from the perspective of a mathematician/physicist navigating his sixties while looking back on the relationships in his life. Among the predominantly free verse poems, both lyric and narrative, are found a few poems in rhyme, several blank verse sonnets, and a pantoum. The book features poems grounded in well-known mathematical puzzles and problems that Tilley has turned into musings on aspects of husband-wife and father-son relationships, themes, among others, carried over from his first book of poems.
Billy Collins said of "In Confidence," Jim Tilley does confide in his readers here as he explores a refreshing variety of subjects--everything from the complexity of father-son and husband-wife relations to the more solvable problems of dark matter and the origins of the cosmos. But what wins our confidence is not his range but his steady hand on the poem and his steady gaze at the world. And Claudia Emerson wrote, In Jim Tilley's In Confidence, we see the internal and external workings of the world through a mature poet's multifaceted lens. Crafting his poems with formal care, Tilley always aims for "the clearest vision one can imagine," whether looking through the intricacies of scientific reasoning, the "perennial memories" that accompany aging, or the unexpected, undeniable logic of "the metaphor out there in the snow."