Biography of Tom Sleigh
Tom Sleigh (/sleɪ/) is an American poet, dramatist, essayist and academic, who lives in New York City. He has published seven books of original poetry, one full-length translation of Euripides' Herakles and a book of essays. At least five of his plays have been produced. He has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, worth $100,000, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Guggenheim Foundation grant. He currently serves as director of Hunter College's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Creative Writing. He is the recipient of the Anna-Maria Kellen Prize and Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin for Fall 2011.
Tom Sleigh was born in Mount Pleasant, Texas, where he lived until the age of five, when he moved to Utah. He lived in Utah until seventh grade, when he moved to California. He attended the California Institute of the Arts, Evergreen State College, and the Writing Seminars Johns Hopkins University for two years, where he graduated with an MA. In his mid-twenties he moved to Massachusetts, to work at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He began teaching at Dartmouth College in 1986 and later taught at New York University, the University of Iowa, UC-Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and serves as director of the Hunter College Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, where he also teaches poetry writing.
Tom Sleigh Poems
I had a blueprint of history in my head —
On the Platform
The omen I didn't know I was waiting for pulled into the station the same instant as the train. It was just a teenage boy busking on the platform,
Because the burn's unstable, burning too hot in the liquid hydrogen suction line and so causing vortices in the rocket fuel
Across the road from where we nap under a dead elm dazzles the meadow where the partisans strung the traitors up,
The Animals In The Zoo Don't Seem Worrie...
Looking at the lion behind the plate glass I wasn't sure what I was looking at: a lion, OK, but he seemed to come apart, not literally
My mother and I and the dog were floating Weightless in the kitchen. Silverware Hovered above the table. Napkins drifted
Somebody's alone in his head, somebody's a kid, somebody's arm's getting twisted—a sandwich flies apart, tomatoes torn, white bread flung, then smeared with shit
A Wedding at Cana, Lebanon, 2007
He said, "It is terrible what happens." And "So, Mr. Tom, do not forget me"—an old-fashioned ring, pop tunes, salsa! salsa! the techno-version of Beethoven's
The Parallel Cathedral
The cathedral being built around our split level house was so airy, it stretched so high it was like a cloud of granite and marble light the house rose up inside.
Out the barred window sandbags in a sagging wall surround the guard post where a soldier half-hidden by the flag
What came wafting down the ditch by the marsh grass waving
Song That Can Only Be Sung Once
But where, oh where is the holy idiot, truth teller and soothsayer, familiar of spirits, rat eater, unhouseled wanderer
His head rose like a torch in a tomb. Banquet-style, as at a second Symposium, The others lounged on couches or lay knocked out.
I had a blueprint
in my head —
it was a history of the martyrs
of love, the fools
of tyrants, the tyrants
at the fate of their own soldiers —