Jim Tilley

Jim Tilley has published three full-length collections of poetry and a short memoir, The Elegant Solution. His writing has appeared in top literary journals, including PloughsharesVirginia Quarterly ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, and Southern Review. In 2008, he won Sycamore Review‘s Wabash Prize for Poetry. Jim earned a doctorate in physics from Harvard University. During his twenty-five-year career in insurance and investment banking, he wrote several prize-winning papers on finance and investments. He has recently published original mathematics research in various academic journals. Against the Wind (Red Hen Press, 2019) is his first novel. He resides in Bedford Corners, New York.

All Books

Ripples in the Fabric of the Universe

Jim Tilley

Publication Date: June 18, 2024

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636281452


In Ripples in the Fabric of the Universe, Jim Tilley draws on his experience as a poet and mathematician to fix a lens on the current raw state of the country and the world and on interpersonal relationships. At times, his mood is merely contemplative, especially while expressing his fondness for nostalgia and in his testaments to family and friends, but as he delves relentlessly into matters political, ecological, and environmental, that mood turns darker, even ominous, infused occasionally with humor to present a more optimistic outlook.


“Perhaps it takes a mind in equal measure that of a mathematician and an artist to produce a work with such perceptual and emotional bandwidth. Here we find poems of pure observation and distilled reminiscence; of rapt attention and a capacious imagination; of sheer whimsy and thinly disguised indignation. Tilley may despair at our pervasive human folly but ultimately finds solace, if not faith, in our natural abode. A most expansive read.”

Scott Mason, author of The Wonder Code: Discover the Way of Haiku and See the World with New Eyes

Against the Wind

Jim Tilley

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-835-9


A successful environmental lawyer is forced to take himself to task when he realizes that everything about his work has betrayed his core beliefs. A high school English teacher asks her former high school love to take up her environmental cause. A transgender adolescent male raised by his grandparents struggles to excel in a world hostile to his kind. A French-Canadian political science professor finds himself left with a choice between his cherished separatist cause and his marriage and family. An accomplished engineer is chronically unable to impress his more accomplished father sufficiently to be named head of the international wind technology company his father founded. The Quebec separatist party’s Minister of Natural Resources, a divorcée, finds herself caught between her French-Canadian lover and an unexpected English-Canadian suitor.


Against the Wind is a big old-fashioned novel with contemporary concerns: gender, adultery, wind energy, and business acquisitions. But at its heart, Jim Tilley’s debut novel is about the ageless concerns of love and loss and hope that we all share. “ —Ann Hood

“Politics—personal and environmental—form the colorful canvas upon which Jim Tilley paints Against the Wind, a novel that squarely faces the issues of today: the breakdown of families, the struggles to accept a transgender child, and the international policies and rivalries of global energy industries.” —Anne D. LeClaire, author of The Halo Effect and The Lavender Hour

“Poet Jim Tilley’s compulsively readable debut novel, Against the Wind, is a rumination on how the past stretches its long fingers into the present. Set in Canada and the U.S., the novel tells the story of Ralph, who is coming to terms with old rivalries and lost love. Told mostly from Ralph’s point of view, and touching on such topical issues as the environment (wind energy) and transgender parenting, this absorbing and tender new novel offers us a view into the male psyche and reminds us of the difficulty of being a man in a culture that judges us all too harshly.”—Cai Emmons, author of Weather Woman

Lessons from Summer Camp

Jim Tilley

Publication Date: April 18, 2016

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-304-0


A fifty-year look backward to the days spent at summer camp and the life lessons they taught us without our knowing it.

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.


“Jim Tilley’s Lessons from Summer Camp would make Wordsworth proud since it is affection recollected in tranquility. Boys leave a ceremonial world of finger sandwiches and afternoon tea to step into a greener and wider one. There Tilley and his friends learn the value and limitations of teamwork and play games that sort out leaders from followers. As sunlit as these poems can be, a prescient and observant Tilley also finds that sometimes life is ‘always a night in the wilderness.’ On a canoe trip he hears two loons calling, one as if lost, the other answering, ‘I’m over here’ as the author himself searches for his place in the world.”—Ron Koertge

“Reading this book is like returning to those sometimes fraught but mostly carefree days of summer camp or, for the uninitiated among us, like taking our blindfolds off and discovering that vivid world for the first time. Tilley’s poems are refreshingly direct, maybe because, as he says in ‘J-Stroke and Sweep,’ ‘You can’t see the metaphor when you’re a Camper.’ He sees the metaphors now but doesn’t bear down on them too hard, and the ‘lessons’ of the title never seem forced. Jim Tilley earns a ‘3rd feather’ for this third book.”—Jeffrey Harrison

Cruising at Sixty to Seventy: Poems and Essay

Jim Tilley

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-536-5


Cruising at Sixty to Seventy is the second book from award-winning poet Jim Tilley. In three sections—Dear Wife, Dear Self, Dear Friends—the speaker, a physicist and mathematician by education, now retired from a career on Wall Street, reflects on everyday experience, finding grace and drama in life’s smaller moments. As in Tilley’s debut collection, In Confidence, many poems use ideas, problems, and puzzles from physics and mathematics to explore personal relationships, such as “Particle and Wave,” in which a fundamental concept from quantum mechanics becomes a metaphor for the ripples and collisions on the fabric of family life. The book ends with a personal essay, “The Elegant Solution” (originally published as a Ploughshares Solo), about Tilley’s relationship with his father based on the language of mathematics.

Praise for Jim Tilley’s First Book, 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.”—Billy Collins

“Jim Tilley is a bracing and quietly confident writer, able to consistently surprise us, whether in missives from domestic life, topical poems, or poems which quirkily address what he calls “the big questions.” These are wry, bittersweet, and unobtrusively instructive poems in the tradition of Wilbur, Schuyler, and Dunn, and they are very much worth reading.”—David Wojahn

In Confidence

Jim Tilley

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

$19.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-473-3


In Confidence is Jim Tilley’s first book of poems, ranging from lyric to narrative in form. About half of the 60 poems are open-form sonnets, most of which fit a broad theme of personal and societal “dislocation.” The collection covers a variety of subjects, from relationships to issues of politics, the economy, and the environment. Several of the poems are presented in pairs with the same underlying setting or situation but with markedly different development, exhibiting a kind of “quantum” picture with both states existing at the same time, not surprising since the poet was formerly a physicist. The subtly crafted verses of In Confidence resonate with universal human qualities.


The Poet of Wall Street

Westechester Magazine writes about Jim Tilley, dubbed “The Poet of Wall Street,” and his new book of poetry, In Confidence, published by Red Hen Press.