Sleigh works that strip of thought between believing and its opposite, and if faith can't do the transfiguring, then poetry will. Formally, Sleigh uses design to speed things up... For subjects he favors Heracles, Hephaestos, Charon: in other words, no one from Mount Olympus' ruling class but the fleshy old strugglers who complained about their labors yet undertook them ceaselessly. There is a weary expeditious muscularity to these poems; when the sun appears, it is like a blazing Marvel Comics superhero...who scorches everything and moves on. The flat titles...are like plain wooden trapdoors over the underworld: lift any one of them and one sullen deity or another
will clamber up and shake you until you see stars.
—David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review
During a cultural period in which many artists have seemed inhibited or enthralled by fashionable academic ideologies, Tom Sleigh has persisted in exploring the dominant human themes—death, religion, suffering, love—with impressive resourcefulness and candor. This alone is enough to qualify him as an indispensable contemporary American poet; he does real work in his writing, the work of renewing the nexus of images that link the literal, visible world with the visionary, subtle ones that ordinarily pass by unnoticed and unspoken....Sleigh writes with an unswerving attention to a complex core of dark or obscure emotions—the combination of clarity and enigma that makes poetry memorable, disturbing, and transformative.
—Andrew Frisardi, Boston Sunday Globe
The Dreamhouse...negotiates a fragile truce between the contrarieties of embodiment and absence, a fugitive classical world and a tarnished contemporary one, and the aesthetic impulses toward both form and wildness. It is a book of scope and delicacy....Sleigh's technical skill and unrestrained energy of mind make categories like "open" and "closed" forms seem inadequate to the task of criticism....He has opened up an elegiac space in which meditation is stained with the coloration of grieving, where embodiment hovers in the wings of disappearance.
—Srikanth Reddy, Boston Book Review
In his fourth collection [The Dreamhouse], Sleigh...continues his presentation of mood pieces, perhaps reminiscent of Wallace Stevens but with a deep-set anger and agitation that is purely contemporary...All modern poets are taught to take note of every smallest happenstance around them, but Sleigh's power of observation top any this reviewer has read... Nothing about these poems is direct, yet the digressions are so linguistically marvelous that, if it matters how he got from there to here, we simply read again....Recommended everywhere poetry books are read.
—Rochelle Ratner, Library Journal
From Heracles and Horace to headlights and homelessness, Sleigh's...fourth book of poetry...builds on his familiar strengths: hard-chiseled lines and stanzas mix versions of Greek and Latin prayers and myths, contemporary confessional lyric and portraits of mentally ill urban wanderers whose persistence Sleigh pities and admires. An attentive 11-section sequence about the life, death and immortality of Heracles stands among Sleigh's best work.... Sleigh's Attic clarity adapts almost as well to the barroom and automobile as to the bow and arrow...Sleigh chooses the scarred over the polished, the unadorned over the elaborate, and the sublimely accurate over the beautiful...
—Publishers Weekly 77