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Now Celebrating 20 Years of Anthology and 19 Years of Chapbook Publication 

The Hudson Valley Writers' Center
Sleepy Hollow, New York

Slapering Hol Press, the small press imprint of The Hudson Valley Writers' Center,
was founded in 1990 to publish emerging poets and thematic anthologies.

In this issue

In this issue, excerpts from the results of the 2009 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. Congratulations to Lynn Wagner for her winning manuscript, No Blues this Raucous Song and to finalists Ted Gilley, for A Handful of Bright Change , Ron Lavalette, for Fallen Away, and Katie Phillips, for Driving Montana, Alone.  Congratulations to runners-up David Cummings, for Hiroshima Haibun, and Rachel Malis, for Call This Odessa.

Issue 15, April 2010


Our reading series
is on most second Fridays
at the Writers' Center
See calendar for details

From the HVWC  Executive Director
Dear Friends,
The spring brochure for the Writers' Center is out!  Now is the time to register before you miss out on your favorite instructors, or the opportunity to sign up for a new and exciting class.
Sadly, we are a bit behind in updating our website.  This talent is not one of my skills.  However, I have someone working on it and updated information will soon be available to you.  In the meantime, please feel free to call me at the office, 914-332-5953, or e-mail me at, for information and to register.
We all look forward to seeing you over the next months.
P.S. Hudson Valley Writers' Center instructor Mary Carroll Moore, author of the recently released and PEN/Faulkner nominated novel, Qualities of Light, appeared on WNPR this week.  To hear the interview, please visit this link: faith-middleton-show/episode/ fms-qualities-light.
Mary is the author of thirteen books and teaches How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book classes at the Writers' Center.

What the Angel Wants to Tell Me
              by Lynn Wagner

Not to fly. To stand, to erode slowly
by the decade, stare
into sun, moon, eclipse,
grow stiff in acid rain
without weeping. What she herself
has been practicing so long now, and if
I listen close, her way is plain,
her plan good. Go down
to God’s Little Acre, she will say,
and dig your own homey ditch.
Lay down in its damp outline
and breathe in. Then look to the sky
and tell me your name.
               Who would dream such a thing.
And yet, I clearly saw the sign
on the cemetery fence: ‘Absolutely
no dogs or fake flowers. These gates
will be locked at dusk.’ The angel
looks down on me and never blinks.
She’s seen the ruin of her city:
the snuffed blast furnaces, rusted
railroad tracks, the dry canal. She knows
the heaviest labors are over. Emptiness,
she believes, breeds a certain species
of space, such as moonglow or
the muffled hope inside my mouth
when I try to speak.
               Get up is what the angel tells me
and it’s then I want to kiss her
full on her concrete lips forgetting
some future day when strangers will come
cover me in the red-checkered blankets
of Sunday picnics. There, where
dogs will shit on me
and squirrels mate blindly
on the flat marker of my days. Then
the shadow of the angel washes over me,
effacing everything.
Lynn Wagner’s poems have appeared in Shenandoah, subtropics, Rhino and 5AM. She has been awarded fellowships to the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts by the Vira I. Heinz Foundation. Lynn received an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets prize. A newcomer to Colorado, she maintains a web presence at

              byTed Gilley
Queerest of all was the straight grain
of a mind with nowhere much to wander,
that perfect attention to the ceaseless tick-tock
     of the hours,
and praying, in my hollow heart, to the gods
of chisel and plane who shaped my walk
and lifted my limbs away from the fire
     and into the murky light
of muscle and bone, and left me here.
Every joint in me still squeaks with gratitude
and if I complain at all it’s because
     I’m nearly human.
The world, after all, is as plain as a trestle table
strewn with the shavings of a dream
from which the seeds of moisture recede,
     leaving me a little warped
in the morning, a bit stiff, nose out of joint,
with a dwindling dream of trees and the light talk
of the birds, and the men with their singing and their saws,
     ready to work on all I would become.
Originally published by Alehouse Press
A native of Virginia, Ted Gilley lives in southern Vermont and works at the Chapin Library of Rare Books of    Williams College. He is the winner of the 2008 Alehouse Press poetry prize. His poems have appeared  in Poetry Northwest, Free Verse and The National Review and his fiction has been published in New England Review,   Northwest Review and Prairie Schooner and other magazines and anthologies.

Fallen Away
             by Ron Lavalette

I don’t know when it happened;
I let it all fall away.  I let it fall

on the long drive to work in the morning
in the sunlight, let it fall crossing
ridge after jaded ridge, fall
with the glimpse of an unlikely hawk
or a capture of crows, or the stacking
of cordwood, the season’s final frost,
fog on the hillside, or the flutter
of a yellow kite in a midsummer wind.
Like the stones of the dead, untended
in the long grass in the middle of June,
in the middle of nowhere I let it fall,
left it all behind and disappeared,
slipped into seamless dreams, drifted
through blue nights and black mornings.
I watched the water boil for coffee,
sat by the river and watched the water
run away toward heaven, heard angels
whisper in the leaves, left the secret
undiscovered, saw the uncertain moon
swim, reflected in dark, starlit pools.
Gone, now, the last of a ll the wasted words;
the effort, senseless, of upward struggle.  

 Originally published in The Comstock Review

Ron Lavalette lives in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont, barely a snowball’s throw from the Canadian border.  His work has appeared in dozens of print journals such as The Anthology of New England Writers, EDGZ, Lynx Eye, Maelstrom, The Pine Island Journal, and Raintown Review. His work has also appeared in pixel form at Able Muse, Conspire, The Country Mouse, The Crescent Moon Journal, MiPo, New Works Review, The Orange Room Review, Stirring, The Writer’s Hood, among others.

Driving Montana, Alone
              by Katie Phillips 
I smile at the stack of Bob Dylan CDs
you're not holding in the passenger seat.
Storm clouds have gathered.  My "Wow" rises
over the harmonica for your benefit,
but you can't see that one sunlit peak
in the midst of threatening sky.  The road turns
wet at the "Welcome to Anaconda" sign
and I pat my raincoat, crassly folded
where your lap should be.  "Anaconda was almost
the state capital," I say, but that's all I know
and you don't ask for more.  You wouldn't mind
my singing and swerving onto the shoulder
for more snapshots over the car door.
And it's only when I get just south of Philipsburg
that you not being here feels like absence.
I want you to see these dark rotting barns,
roadkill of Highway One.  It seems only you
could know why my eyes fill the road
with water again when a flock of swallows
swoops through an open barn door
and rushes out the gaping roof. 

Katie Phillips spent time in Maryland, Colorado, and Montana before moving to a suburb of Chicago.  She feels fortunate to be able to walk to work with her dog.  She has had poems published in the Cider Press Review and The Raintown Review; was a finalist in Byline Magazine’s Silver Anniversary Chapbook Contest; and was finalist for an 2006 Illinois Arts Council Grant.

              by David Cummings
But recently I found a black and white photograph.
She is twelve, a single figure standing in a whiteness.
It is her last year and I do not know the occasion,
but it has weight, for she is wearing her finest kimono.
(Even in this old recovered photograph, the silk shines.)
And she seems wrapped in it, secured, arms arrested at her sides,
pale, slender wrists bare below the sleeves, and her hands—hands
that would fold nine hundred sixty-four cranes—so still now.
Yet it is her small, round face that haunts me. How serious
she is, the dark, dark eyes looking out at me forever
from that place of forever—something passing through the veil,
something of what winter’s beauty is. And behind her\
new houses, leafless trees, a ditch, unfinished Hiroshima.
There is no child but this child.

              Sadako-san, somber unfinished child of cranes,
              dead October 25, 1955—
              ten years and eighty-one days after the black rains.

Who, on any day, looking up at the Park’s little statue
or down at the new bounty of cranes, would not embrace
the ease of hope? But in this recovered face, this child
dark as eternity, is as true a form. Let me hold her
constant in thought that the work of hope work rock and water.
The flight of the heart toward the soul, the high flight of mind
in the realms where like spring possibility is reborn,
is the welcomed half of love; here is the half that makes it whole.

              Light of two Sadako-san to guide me,
                            one in stone imagined, one real;
              one the rare light of joy, one sorrow’s light—
                            let each call to me the other.
David Cummings started writing poetry after he left his position in the Theoretical Physics Department at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Meditating on his experience during travels in Japan and Europe led him to begin writing on the subject of war and its devastations, both physical and spiritual. His work has appeared in Poetry Flash, Bellowing Ark, The Sandhill Review, Cuts From the Barber Shop, and Convergence.

Night in Cyrillic
              by Rachel Malis
I didn't come to Odessa to raise our dead.
We have enough to talk about.
Tell me stories about you,
slipping across roofs
at dusk in the summer. Tell me which park benches
did you bring girls to, and what were their names?
How much did you ever win at cards? Tell me
which watermelon stands you liked best.
What did your house smell like,
how were you punished if you broke something inside?
Finally, name the exact green
of your army uniform.
The kind of weather on the day
you realized you had to leave.
List those who said goodbye at the train,
what you packed, the color of your suitcase.
I want to know if you held your mother's hand.
The shade of blue her eyes were that night.
Originally published by  Oberon Poetry
Rachel will be graduating from ASU with her MFA in May 2010. She was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Junior Prize at George Washington University in 2007. She is the recent winner of the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival Poetry Award, has been published in Oberon, and has work forthcoming in the New Mexico Poetry Review.

Annual Chapbook Festival
May 3-4, 2010
The Hudson Valley Writers' Center and Slapering Hol Press will be participating in the 2nd Annual Chapbook Festival, hosted by the City University of New York on Monday May 3 and Tuesday May 4, 2010.
The festival celebrates the chapbook as a work of art and as a vehicle for alternative and emerging writers and publishers. This is a great opportunity to check out all of the great titles available from SHP and to see what other chapbook publishers are doing around the country.  The festival will feature something for everyone with offerings such as workshops, marathon poetry readings, and a closing-night reading of prize-winning Chapbook Fellows.
For more information, please call. 212.817.2005
Co-sponsored by The Office of Academic Affairs, The Center for the Humanities, The Graduate Center and MFA Programs in Creative Writing of the City University of New York, The Center for Book Arts, Poets House, Poetry Society of America, and Poets & Writers

Newsletter edited by Ryan J. Conatti

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