Tom Sleigh's poetry is hard-earned and well-founded. I greatly admire the way it refuses to cut emotional corners and yet achieves a sense of lyric absolution.
In his search for "the promise of meaning," Tom Sleigh's imagery moves deftly from contemporary urban America to the ancient Greek world, from gritty colloquial detail to apocalyptic nightmare, juxtaposing the elevated with the commonplace... These poems...brim and overflow with authority and persuasive energy. In his exact tracking, in his language for death's stalking presence, the poet seems capable (almost) of locating and ensnaring death, but that's not Sleigh's goal. Instead, he succeeds in making, from his ever-inventive and lyrical language, unique vehicles of conveyance.
—American Poetry Review, Robin Becker
From Publishers Weekly
Sleigh (The Far Side of the Earth) has slowly, and justly, won a reputation for his clean-lined, sinewy poems about tough men, wounded bodies and all the forms of strength—intellectual, moral, aural, physical, emotional. His seventh book of verse...may be his saddest and most humane. Stanzas about Homeric violence, and about its modern counterparts, frame understated, nearly tearful depictions of troubled lovers (gay and straight), grieving survivors and the last days of the poet's father, "moving with the clumsy gestures/ Of a man in a space suit—the strangeness of death/ Moving among the living." A Gerhardt Richter painting conjures reincarnations of Hercules, compelled by mean gods to "the fate he must fulfill, slaughtering/ with his club whatever comes into his way"; drag shows suggest obituaries; radio broadcasts look forward to the Earth's end; and the Middle East, ancient and modern, echoes with emblems of oblivion: "We will be covered by the dune,/ and uncovered in time." Body and mind, for Sleigh, must die together, and their mutual sadness, incomprehension and struggle generates each poem. This serious focus, the well-managed ancient Greek analogues and the wrung-out credibility of the best stanzas belong to nobody but Sleigh. (Mar.)