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The Dreamhouse (Phoenix Poets) Paperback – November 10, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0226750491 ISBN-10: 0226750493 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From Heracles and Horace to headlights and homelessness, Sleigh's raw and often-compelling 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: "Before him the underworld/ shrinks to an arrow's tip, behind him his past bleeds into a vapor trail/ until he is nothing but the momentum he feels gathering/ as the bow bends and the tensing fingers curl." Sleigh's Attic clarity adapts almost as well to the barroom and automobile as to the bow and arrow: in the guilt-ridden downtown of "The Grid," a man collapses on a sidewalk, "the police hoist him by his armpits and sockless ankles," and Sleigh reflects: "The waters wear the stones. My face is foul with weeping/ and on my eyelids is the shadow of death." As in previous books (Waking; The Chain) Sleigh can sound slightly like Thom Gunn, Frank Bidart or Robert Pinsky, though rarely like any one for the length of a poem. (As with Pinsky, simple clarity can become for him an end instead of a means.) Sleigh chooses the scarred over the polished, the unadorned over the elaborate, and the sublimely accurate over the beautiful. His most personal work, in a sequence of love poems and one about his late father, is paradoxically his least individuated: his "father's face/ quizzical, half-angry, pinched by death/ and then, at the end grown grave, calm" could be the face of many poets' parents, but Sleigh's tormented Greek heroes are his alone. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In his fourth collection, Sleigh (Waking) continues his presentations of mood pieces, perhaps reminiscent of Wallace Stevens but with a deep-set anger and agitation that is purely contemporary. "Sunday Morning," in his view, presents not the tranquility of Stevens but a crazed bag lady in the park. She is not alone in her derangement: there will always be those "demons/ who slip in and out of us whatever our lives," as he warns in "To the Sun." All modern poets are taught to take note of every smallest happenstance around them, but Sleigh's powers of observation top any this reviewer has read, as in "Stillness," a dense, five-page poem describing an elderly poet climbing into the back seat of a Volkswagen. 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. As a matter of fact, the complex yet brilliant poems in the second section, dealing with the death of Sleigh's father, require (and withstand) second and third readings. Two of Sleigh's previous books were reviewed in the New York Times; he's won NEA, Guggenheim, and Lila Wallace/ Reader's Digest grants, among others. Recommended everywhere poetry books are read.ARochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Poets
  • Paperback: 113 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226750493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226750491
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,395,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tom Sleigh's poetry is shocking and inventive, yet traditional in form. It seems almost a direct challenge to the kitschy "innovations" that some other poets find to be clever. One must read these poems by the line if not by the word: we are dealing with a highly sophisticated craftsman. At the same time, I find that the territory Sleigh incorpoates and makes poetry out of is not "poetical" -- depictions of "the street", direct explorations of the darkest and most terrifying human actions and emotions-- without suggesting easy resolution or reconciliaion. These poems allow us to meditate upon an intensely-felt and glimpsed life-- it is nearly a training program for cultivation of the finer senses-- minus sentimentality and jouissance. Real Bonus: spectral, astrological, sparkling love poems that concurrently have a focus on precise objects and emotions. This book is also a real pleasure for folks who know their Greek mythology.
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