At The Ninth Hour - A Book Of Prison Poems

LEWISOHN, JAMES

Published by Maine State Prison, 1977
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58 pages, wrappers, very good. Excerpted from an article by Lance Tapley in Portland Magazine: Everyone who knew Jim Lewisohn back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was a popular, controversial, volatile English professor at the University of Maine in Portland-and a nationally promising poet-knew that he suffered from great frustration. Rejection slips from magazine and book editors decorated the walls of the bathroom of his comfortable bungalow in South Portland. He shared this home with Roslyn, his vivacious wife, who was a junior-high-school guidance counselor, and their four children, along with a parade of students, visiting writers, and members of Portland's intelligentsia attracted by Lewisohn's wide-ranging mind, wild energy, wild parties, and by Roslyn's cooking. His poems had appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Saturday Review, Chelsea, The Hudson Review, Shenandoah, and other prestigious publications of the era, but he couldn't get a book published, and this lack bedeviled him. His frustration also may have come from deeper sources. Those who knew him best felt one source might have been his father, the once-famous novelist, translator, professor, and Zionist lecturer Ludwig Lewisohn, who had fathered James Elias with concert singer Thelma Spear. Ludwig had led a notoriously unsettled life and could be "quite overbearing," according to Henry Braun, a Maine poet who knew both Ludwig, who died in 1955, and his son when the father taught at Brandeis University. So, although his crime was one of the most shocking Portland has ever seen, to Jim Lewisohn's friends it was not entirely astonishing when, in the spring of 1974, after a night of drinking, he shot and killed Roslyn, the bark of the gun waking up two daughters in time to see him turn the 9-millimeter pistol on himself as their mother lay dying on the kitchen floor. But he survived, and he was convicted of murder. The jury refused to believe his story that the shooting was an accident, believing instead the young daughters who testified against him. In prison, he taught poetry, self-published several books (one entitled Roslyn), converted to the forgiveness of Catholicism, got married to a Portland woman, and had another daughter by her. Because of jury prejudice, he was granted a new trial; for the second time, he was convicted of murder. Paroled in 1984, divorced, he spent several years at the Bangor Theological Seminary, obtaining a master's of divinity. He already had a master's from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where as a young man he had studied to be a rabbi. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: At The Ninth Hour - A Book Of Prison Poems
Publisher: Maine State Prison
Publication Date: 1977
Binding: Soft Cover
Book Condition: Very Good

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Lewisohn James editor
Published by Maine State Prison, ME (1977)
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Book Description Maine State Prison, ME, 1977. paperback. First Edition. ME: Maine State Prison. 1977 Very Good. No Jacket as Issued 8vo-over 7þ"-9þ" tall. Light toning to spine and rear cover.715 Very Good with no dust jacket as issued. Seller Inventory # 026140

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Lewisohn, James, ed.
Published by Maine State Prison Poetry Program, Thomaston (1977)
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Book Description Maine State Prison Poetry Program, Thomaston, 1977. Softcover. First Edition; First Printing. Wraps, near fine with owner's inscription. Many diverse contributors. Extra postage may be required for heavy or oversize books.; 8vo 8" - 9" tall; 56 pp. Seller Inventory # 24453

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