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Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and Percival Everett's Telephone has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Letters to a Stranger

Thomas James
I will last forever. I am not impatient--
My skin will wait to greet its old complexions.
I'll lie here till the world swims back again.
—from "Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesonekh"   Thomas James's Letters to a Stranger—originally published in 1973, shortly before James's suicide—has become one of the underground classics of contemporary poetry. In this new edition, with an introduction by Lucie Brock-Broido and four of James's poems never before published in book form, this fraught and moving masterpiece is at last available.

Letters to a Stranger is a new book in the Graywolf Poetry Re/View Series, edited by Mark Doty, dedicated to bringing essential books of contemporary American poetry back into print.

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The searing collection, a cult favorite for decades, by the late Thomas James

About the Author

Thomas  James
Thomas James was born in 1946 and lived most of his life in Joliet, Illinois. He was the author of Letters to a Stranger. His poetry appeared in magazines and anthologies, including North American ReviewPoetry, and Poetry Northwest, which awarded him the Theodore Roethke Prize in 1969. In 1974, at the age of twenty-seven, he died shortly after the original publication of his only book.  
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Lucie Brock-Broido is the author of three collections of poetry: Trouble in Mind (2004), The Master Letters (1995), and A Hunger (1988). She edited Letters to a Stranger by Thomas James for the Graywolf Re/View Series. She was Director of Poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and lived in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts, until her death in 2018.
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  • Letters to a Stranger is a book of dark intensities and deeply felt connections, both haunted and haunting, at once brooding, sensual and lucid . . . The voice in these poems – painfully lonely and filled with longing, estranged and religious – has stayed with me for more than twenty years. It deserves to be remembered.”—The Washington Post
  • “There is a truth to this reading that draws on the similarity between these poems and the work of earlier poets like [Sylvia] Plath and [Robert] Lowell, in particular the way that moments of emotional laceration are embedded in a fabric of controlled, formal diction and imaginary narrative. James is more than a late ‘confessional’ poet, though…he seems to be moving toward a softer, more milky tone, more impressionist than expressionist.”—Harp & Altar 
  • “Sometimes contemporary poetry feels so afraid of its own love, and the risk of overexposed emotion is one aspect of what is so refreshing in James.”—Tin House
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