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Interview With A Ghost : Essays - Tom Sleigh

Interview With A Ghost

Essays

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The first book of inventive prose by a poet whose writing “refuses to cut emotional corners and yet achieves a sense of lyric absolution” (Seamus Heaney)
I: What do the dead think about, anyway?
G: For me, it’s questions of realism, I mean what’s more real than the body once you don’t have one?
  —from “Interview with a Ghost” In Interview with a Ghost, poet Tom Sleigh investigates poetry from his conviction that “while art and life are separable, they aren’t separate.” These essays explore issues of selfhood that are often assumed but not adequately confronted by contemporary poetry—namely, subjectivity and its limits, 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 such as Anne Bradstreet, Sir Walter Raleigh, Robert Lowell, Thom Gunn, and Frank Bidart are examined, as are Sleigh’s own poems in the contexts of history and private life, disease and health, the realm of the spirit and the realm of the day to day.
 One essay imagines the poet delivering a lecture, followed by a reception full of jokes and asides; another essay 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 establishes a new way for thinking and writing about poetry. Tom Sleigh is the author of five poetry collection, including Far Side of the Earth, as well as a translation of Euripides' Herakles. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Hunter College and lives in Brooklyn, New York. In Interview with a Ghost, celebrated poet Tom Sleigh investigates poetry from his conviction that "while art and life are separable, they aren't separated." With passion and erudition, these essays explore issues of selfhood that are often assumed but not adequately confronted by contemporary poetry—namely, subjectivity and its limits, 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 such as 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 history and private life, disease and health, the realm of the spirit and the realm of the day to day.
 
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' 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 paradigm for thinking and writing about poetry. "In dense and formally playful essays, poet Sleigh explores how 'private life, historical circumstance, and art converge' and ‘what it means to say "I" in a poem, in all its psychological, historical, political, and aesthetic ramifications.’ In his opening essay Sleigh draws on his own experiences of bodily wasting and brushes with death (he has a chronic blood disease) to read between the lines of Plato's Phaedo. Another autobiographical essay reflects on his parents' East Texas drive-in movie theater while analyzing the relationship between technological and poetical thinking; here Sleigh invokes Heidegger, Auden, Lowell and Yeats and recalls memories of his father hooked to a dialysis machine, en route to striking insights into technology, magic and the divine. He traces notions of the self from Anne Bradstreet to Emerson, Whitman and Eliot, noting that 'the self in American poetry has usually been dependent on some sponsoring transcendental source.' To richly suggestive effect, Sleigh combines child psychologist D.W. Winnicott’s ideas about infantile absorption in play and T.S. Eliot's theories of 'impersonality' to comment on the act of poetic communication. Sleigh concludes by focusing essays on specific writers and their works, treating among others Frank Bidart, Elizabeth Bishop, Randall Jarrell and Seamus Heaney."—Publishers Weekly

ISBN: 9781555974404
ISBN-10: 1555974406
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 21st March 2006
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.18
Weight (kg): 0.47