“Fair Warning: Leo Connellan and His Poetry,” a tribute to the late Rockland native and his writing edited by Sheila Murphy and Marilyn Nelson, has just been released by Printed Matter Press of Connecticut.

Thirty-seven writers contributed to the volume. Their work ranges from reviews of Connellan’s books to analyses of his poems to reminiscences of the often cantankerous, tormented, telephone-addicted writer. Among the contributors are the nationally-known poets Hayden Carruth, Robert Creeley, Richard Wilbur and Baron Wormser, former Maine Poet Laureate.

Connellan was born in Portland and grew up in Rockland during the 1930s and ’40s, a time in America where money was very hard to come by, especially on the coast of Maine. His father was the Rockland postmaster, a lawyer who was interested in sports, not poetry, and was angered when his son announced the intention to become a poet. But Connellan had won a national poetry award in while still in high school and allowed no one, not even his father, to discourage his ambitions.

Connellan left Maine at age 18 and rarely returned, but many of his poems deal with the time he spent in the state. They concern the hardscrabble lives of the people he knew, the fishermen and sardine packers of his youth. Much of his work is harsh and raw, but with an undercurrent of tenderness. The title of this collection, “Fair Warning,” is the title of one of his poems, about a lobsterman.

After years of struggle and obscurity, Connellan won the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and was named Poet Laureate of Connecticut and Poet-in-Residence for the Connecticut State University system. He published 15 books of poetry.

Kendall Merriam, current Rockland Poet Laureate, is quoted on the back cover saying “Leo … was the true poet laureate of Maine, gritty and loving, sad and laughing, but always the best.” A local contributor to the volume is Christopher Fahy of Thomaston whose novel, “Chasing the Sun,” set in a fictional Rockland, Port Clyde and Belfast, was inspired by his times with Connellan.

“Fair Warning” can be obtained at bookstores, online at Amazon.com or directly from the publisher, Printed Matter Press, 290 Somers Road, Ellington, CT 06029.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.