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For Hunter’s Tom Sleigh, Praise from the Poet Laureate

Any time a new poet laureate is named, there is always interest in what poets he or she likes to read. So now that Philip Levine has been named, at age 83, as the 18th to hold this national honor, whom among his poetic colleagues does he admire?

The list, as quoted in the August 11 New York Times, is a short one, and on it is none other than Hunter College’s own Tom Sleigh. Here is what Levine said: “I love intelligent poetry — Stevens, Ammons, Tom Sleigh, Robert Morgan.”

Levine is hardly alone in his admiration for Sleigh, who is program director and senior poet in Hunter’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. His poems frequently appear in The New Yorker and other distinguished publications. Most recently his “Homage to Mary Hamilton” was published in the Dec. 20 New Yorker.

Among his many honors he has won the John Updike Award, the Kingsley Tufts Award (worth $100,000), the Poetry Society of America’s Shelly Award, a Guggenheim grant, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Now add to this list a tip of the hat – or, rather, a wave of the pen – from the poet laureate.

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