Thomas James was born Thomas Edward Bojeski in Joliet, Illinois, where he would live most of his life. His poems, which demonstrate technical skill and the influence of Sylvia Plath, appeared in magazines and anthologies, including, North American Review, Poetry, and Poetry Northwest, which awarded him the Theodore Roethke Prize in 1969. He died in 1974 at the age of 27, shortly after the first publication of his only book, Letters to a Stranger. Since its publication, it has become one of the underground classics of contemporary American poetry. Writing in the Washington Post, Edward Hirsch describes Letters to a Stranger as “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 20 years. It deserves to be remembered.”