Slapering Hol Press logo

18 Years of Chapbook Publication, 19 Years of Anthology 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

Issue 13, June 2009


Our reading series
at the Writers' Center
resumes in October

See calendar for details


Slapering Hol Press Meets China
by Margo Stever

From October 24-26, four Hudson Valley Writers' Center board members, Donald Stever, Margo Stever, Peter Mak, and Paula Armbruster, and one former long-time board member, Angelina Mak, attended the 2008 Hangzhou International Symposium on Sinology and Sino-Foreign Relations and Exchanges at Zhejiang University. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Institute of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University; the Institute of English Literature, School of International Studies at Zhejiang University; and the School of History, Classics, and Archeology at the University of Edinburgh. Zhejiang is widely considered to be the third highest ranking university in China.

The featured photography exhibition at the conference, "Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 Mission to Asia, The Photographs of Harry Fowler Woods," was created by James and Margo Taft Stever from photographs taken by a relative who was an amateur photographer on the diplomatic mission. They also presented an academic paper on the 1905 diplomatic mission to Asia.

During the international symposium, the 2001 Slapering Hol Press Contest winner (The Landscape of Mind), Jianqing Zheng, delivered a paper on the acclaimed, award-winning children's book author and long-time HVWC workshop leader, Jean Fritz, whom Zheng had gotten to know when he was a graduate student in 1992. Both Fritz and Zheng grew up in Wuhan, China. Her book, Homesick: My Own Story, about her childhood in China, has received the Newbery Honor Book award, and the American Book Award. Jean Fritz has published more than sixty books for children.

According to Zheng, Ms. Fritz labeled her novel about her childhood as fiction since she telescoped so much time into a few years. Zheng calls Fritz's story "new journalism," a form that is comprised of a combination of facts and emotional appeal and includes books that provide young adults with a bridge for growing up. Because Fritz was homesick for both her U.S. and China home, Zheng pointed out the title's double meaning.

After Fritz returned to China in 1983, she wrote China Homecoming. She was concerned that her memories of China would disappear after her father's death at age 96. The Yangtze River became an emblem of her childhood memories. Zheng talked of Jean Fritz's "inseparableness" from China. While visiting, she found her childhood home which hadn't changed since her departure. Fritz has subsequently returned to China two more times. She currently lives in a retirement community in Scarborough-on-Hudson, New York.

On October 21, Margo Stever also presented a poetry reading at the Shanghai International Studies University, the first poetry reading ever held at that campus. Around fifty students elected to attend the reading and asked many questions. At Zhejiang University, the Mouse Poets Society organized a special student poetry reading for the visiting Americans. One older established poet, Long Bide, also read one of his poems.


Margo SteverMargo Stever's Frozen Spring won the 2002 Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Reading the Night Sky, won the 1996 Riverstone Press Chapbook Competition. Her poems and essays have appeared in the New England Review, West Branch, Connecticut Review, Rattapallax, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of the Slapering Hol Press.

photo by Mark Sadan

News Flash:

When the Olympic torch reached the United States this past summer, the PEN American Center launched a recording with the celebrated American poet who serves on the HVWC Advisory Board, Billy Collins, reading Shi Tao's poem, "June," a meditation on the 1989 student massacre at Tiananmen Square. In 2005, after Yahoo (Hong Kong) Holdings Ltd. cooperated in informing on Tao's email activity, Tao has been imprisoned for the duration of ten years while his wife and baby are under house arrest. Due to negative forced working conditions, Tao's health is in serious jeopardy. Further information about Shi Tao and places to write letters urging his release from prison can be found on the web.

For further information, see:

Hear Billy Collins read Tao’s poem, "June" here:

Group photo of participants in 2008 Hangzhou International Symposium
on Sinology and Sino-Foreign Relations and Exchanges at Zhejiang University:

Front row from right facing photo: Donald Stever, HVWC Board Member, third from right; Margo Stever, Co-editor of Slapering Hol Press, fourth from right; Paula Armbruster, HVWC Board Member and Slapering Hol Press Advisory Committee Member, fifth from right; Angelina Mak, former long-time HVWC Board Member, sixth from right.
Third row from right facing photo: James Stever, conference participant and photographer for Slapering Hol Press, fifth from right; Peter Mak, HVWC Board Member, sixth from right.
Absent: Jianqing Zheng, conference presenter and SHP author.

Margo Stever

Margo Stever reading her poems at
Shanghai International Studies University

The Mouse Poets' Society


The Mouse Poets' Society at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.  On the far right in the second row is HVWC Board member Peter Mak. Next to him is the Chinese poet, Peter Long (Long Bide)



Jianqing Aheng


Jianqing Zheng, 2001 SHP chapbook contest winner, presents a paper at the international symposium on the award-winning children's book author (and friend of the HVWC), Jean Fritz, who spent her youth in Wuhan, from where Zheng also comes

photo by James Stever

Daniela Gioseffi and Fran Castan
at the November War and Peace Reading at HVWC

Daniela Gioseffi and Fran CastanThe Hudson Valley Writers' Center's 3rd annual Veterans Day tribute to the voices of poets and writers who have written poems and stories related to war and peace was held November 14th, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. The two featured poets were Daniela Gioseffi and Fran Castan. Each has earned recognition for her peace efforts and for outstanding written work. The program also included readings by selected community poets and writers who submitted work for consideration by a panel of judges for SHP. The poets included: Llyn Clague, Reggie Marra, Andrea L. Alterman, Tom Milton, Terry M. Dugan, Elizabeth Young McNally, Sandra Lee Morris, Rhett Watts, Jennifer Lang, Sandra Berris, Catherine Gonick, Yselle Shapiro and Mae Aiello. Host for the evening was Cindy Beer-Fouhy.

photo by James Stever

Call for Submissions

Those interested in reading at the November 13th, 2009 Slapering Hol Press Writers on War and Peace gathering at the Writers' Center (with featured poets D. Nurske and Frances Richey) may submit up to three samples of original poems or prose for consideration. Each piece should be no longer than two pages, double spaced as there is a three minute limit per reader at the event. Please include name, e-mail address and /or phone number at top of submission for notification of acceptance. Only those accepted will be notified. Send submissions to:

Submissions, Writers On War and Peace
Hudson Valley Writers' Center
300 Riverside Drive
Sleepy Hollow, New York 10591

postmarked no later than September 1st 2009. No email submissions, please.

Review of Mary Kaiser's Falling into Velazquez
winner of the 2006 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition

by Paul Zimmer, Georgia Review, Fall 2009

Mary Kaiser's Falling into Velazquez comes up against the old problem of making art about art. Kaiser has abundant talent and, indeed, her writing—more often than that of most poets who try to work this way—is strong enough to "fall into" the paintings, photographs, sculptures, and artistic settings about which she writes. Her love and knowledge of this art is obvious; it is a pity that reproductions could not be included.

In the title poem Kaiser displays her ability to enter another art with her own. It is winter; she has taken her big volume of European masterpieces to her chair, and the heavy book bears her down into the cushions. As she writes, "In the book it's summer: flying babies trail bolts of linen, knobs of flesh deploy / on tender greens." Then she turns the page and stumbles into Velazquez' Las Meninas. The little girl in the center rivets the poet with her eyes, drawing Kaiser into that famous dark interior. "Beside me, the dwarf directs my chin to foil / oblique brutality with raw." And who is that figure slipping from the room, in silhouette in the back of the painting? Apparently Kaiser falls into a slumber, and the book thuds onto the floor. She awakens in the precious light of her parlor, where "Anything could shatter. I clench my eyelids tight and run." This poem succeeds in taking the reader "into" the experience of the painting.

There are many other fine moments in this book, including a poem about the creation of a fiddle. In "The Medium," Kaiser carries us through the history of the selection and treatment of woods, and of how hide and sinew are rendered into glue:

This is the animal factor—

this hot, short-leased, predatory clench.
It brings in a power of yearning deeper

than any longing inside a tree.

Her language is resonant and haunting. When the finished instrument is finally played and "the bow / first shears a banshee keen across the strings, / you can feel a tremble along the throat, and sometimes, / on the grace notes, an echo from the other side." Yes, of course! Only a good poet can bring this moment to us.

Good as Kaiser is at evoking the art, one aches to see the work she writes about: Eakins, Rivera, Monet, Kahlo, Manet, Arbus, Richter, and more. I suppose the kind of presentation I am craving could be done on a computer . . . but shame on me! I am grateful for this book, and Slapering Hol Press has done its usual crisp and handsome presentation of these poems. One can always haul a heavy volume of masterpieces to his chair.

Reprinted with permission of the author.

Newsletter edited by Susana H Case

Questions or comments? E-mail us at or call (914) 332-5953


Slapering Hol Press Main Page

The Hudson Valley Writers' Center - Home