Photo: Travis Elborough
Maura Dooley (b. 1957, Truro) is of Irish extraction and grew up in Bristol. ‘I’ve written poetry since I was a child,’ she says. ‘Both my older brothers wrote poetry, it seemed like a normal thing to do.’ She studied at the universities of York and Bristol and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths.
Dooley’s poetry has been praised for its ‘ability to enact and find images for complex feelings’ (Adam Thorpe). Two of her poetry collections have been shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. ‘Cleaning Jim Dine’s Heart’ (The Poetry Review), which has been shortlisted for the 2015 Forward prize for Best Single Poem, will be published next year in her forthcoming collection with Bloodaxe.
Her work on behalf of poets and poetry has been longstanding, and includes five years as organiser of creative writing courses for the Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire. She was founding Director of the Literature series at London’s Southbank Centre, creating a year-round programme of talks, fiction and poetry readings and re-establishing, after an absence of 20 years, the major festival Poetry International.
Her advice to anyone starting out in poetry today is: ‘Pay no attention to fashion. Read, read, read: read across centuries, traditions and continents.’
Read the Forward Prizes Q&A with Maura Dooley: “What’s next for me as a poet? Just the hope to carry on writing.”