Timothy Allen was born in Liverpool in 1960, and as a former aid worker has lived in many parts of the developing world. He has worked for long periods in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Peru, as well as shorter stints in Uganda, Ghana, Albania and Vietnam. He has also worked in Portugal and the UK, where he currently teaches English at the University of Liverpool. He has published translations from several languages, including Spanish and Vietnamese.
In the 1990s, BBC Radio featured extracts from his long poem, “Song of the City”, which describes 24 hours in the life of the city of Liverpool, using a range of poetic forms. In 2008, he won a Stephen Spender prize for his translation of the opening lines of the great Vietnamese verse-novel, Kiều: A New Lament for a Broken Heart by Nguyễn Du, and was later awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship which enabled him to complete his reworking of the whole poem.
His poetry has been published in Poetry Review and in Modern Poetry in Translation.
He was teaching at the National University of the Peruvian Amazon in the early 1990s when he first heard the music of Chabuca Granda and discovered the poetry of Javier Heraud. He is currently working on a detective novel set in the Peruvian Amazon. In May 2010 he joined the advisory board of Sea Breeze, the Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings (www.liberiaseabreeze.com).
He is married to Ann Molloy, and they have two children, Oisín and Molly.
– photo by Oisín Allen