Interview with a Ghost

Interview with a Ghost
Tom Sleigh

"Readable and absorbing. . . . Highly recommended for all literature collections."—Library Journal

"A contemplative tour of thought."—Midwest Book Review

About the Book

The first book of critical prose by a poet whose writing "refuses to cut emotional corners and yet achieves a sense of lyric absolution"—Seamus Heaney

In Interview with a Ghost, celebrated poet Tom Sleigh investigates poetry from his conviction that "while art and life are separable, they aren't separate." With passion and erudition, these essays explore issues of selfhood that are often assumed but not adequately confronted by contemporary poetry—namely, what it means to employ the first person in a poem, the elusive "I" with all of its freighted aesthetic and psychological implications. The works of poets including Anne Bradstreet, Sir Walter Raleigh, Robert Lowell, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, and Frank Bidart are examined, as are Sleigh's own poems and translations in the contexts of his own history and sickness. Sleigh has constructed a book textured by an intriguing array of multiple forms. One essay imagines the poet preparing and delivering a lecture on his life and art, followed by an imagined reception full of jokes and asides; another essay veers into a contemporary myth involving Odysseus's son Telemachus; another becomes a wild extended parable about the avant-garde; the title piece, in the form of an interview, interrogates the poetic soul, after the body has passed on. In a style that suits the subject of the multiplicity of the self, Interview with a Ghost defines a new idiom for critical discourse.