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Great Writers, Great Readings: Tom Sleigh

By Theodore Bunker, Special to the Chronicle


Tom Sleigh, award-winning poet with eight books in print, was the most recent author at Hofstra for the Great Writers, Great Readings program. Sleigh has won numerous accolades for his vivid depictions of his childhood, and his experiences as a journalist reporting from around the world.

Phillis Levin, who introduced Sleigh, knew him while they were in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University. She praised his "lyricism" and "fervor," and the intimate, vibrant descriptions that fill his poetry.

Sleigh read several poems, most of which detailed experiences from childhood, such as "Newsreel," "Space Station," "Self-Portrait with Shoulder Pads" and "From the Ass' Mouth: A Theory of the Leisure Class." He also read two poems inspired by modern events, "Army Cats," about his experiences in Lebanon, and "This Thing of Darkness," about the execution of Saddam Hussein. Sleigh closed with a reading of "Homage to Mary Hamilton," a ballad.

Ater reading, Sleigh answered questions from the audience. He spoke about his process of writing poetry about modern, political events.

"There's a big difference between political convictions and political emotions," he said. "Embed emotions in what you see."

He also spoke of the black comedy found in horrific moments, recounting a car bomb in Lebanon that blew all the clothes out of a Georgio Armani store.

This story ended a remarkable and fascinating Great Writers, Great Readings. The next reading will feature David Lindsay-Abaire on April 25.

Overheard at Hofstra

Overheard at Hofstra