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17 Years of Chapbook Publication, 18 Years of Anthology Publication


The Hudson Valley Writers' Center
Sleepy Hollow, New York

THE NEWSLETTER OF SLAPERING HOL PRESS
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, “Owing to One Part of Speech,” a poem by Meredith Trede. Rigoberto Gonzalez on Slapering Hol Press and Stephanie Lenox’s chapbook, competition winner in 2007, The Heart That Lies Outside The Body. Photos from Slapering Hol Press at the Cornelia Street Café in New York City. Cartoon by Bert Johnson.
Issue 10, July 2008

SECOND FRIDAY CAFE

Our reading series
at the Writers' Center
will resume in the fall.

Next reading:
OCTOBER 10TH, 7:30 pm
with Lee Briccetti
and Jeanne Marie Beaumont

See calendar for details

 


Owing to One Part of Speech

about the sky in pure conjecture
above aerials and water towers
across alleys, rooftops, expectations
after the old words: icebox, tinfoil, nickelodeon, baby
against caritas, mercy, each other
among foundlings, fledglings
around corners, candy stores, beer gardens
at moon slant, star stroke
before disseminated intravascular coagulation
beside brides and maids and silent tales
by contract, by gods
despite desire
down, down, Derry down
during the laudate, miserare
except me
for want of a finer feeling, father, lover
from your palm a tender cup
in media res, instead
into this day, ce jour, this journey
of stone, steel, concrete
on the cusp of caring
through sunlight my darlings
under startled branches
until the morning moon, children’s moon
up with
with her name before and after

Meredith Trede

Reprinted by permission of the author from Heliotrope.

 

photo: Meredith Trede

On the Advisory Committee of Slapering Hol Press, Meredith Trede is also one of the founding publishers of Toadlily Press. Her chapbook, Out of the Book, was in Desire Path, the inaugural volume of The Quartet Series. Journals that have published her work include Blue Mesa Review, Gargoyle, Heliotrope, The Paris Review, and Runes. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has held residency fellowships at Ragdale, Saltonstall, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Virginia and France.

 

Rigoberto González on Slapering Hol Press

The Heart That Lies Outside the Body by Stephanie Lenox
The Heart That Lies
Outside the Body

by Stephanie Lenox

It means “Sleepy Hollow” in Old Dutch. Yes, that Sleepy Hollow, as in the place Mr. Washington Irving put on the literary map, though for the past twenty years, The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center has been working hard to build on that legacy. The vision of poet and founder Margo Stever has indeed blossomed into an extraordinary place for the arts. Only a train ride away from Grand Central in Manhattan, the center is itself the (currently under construction) Philipse Manor railroad station. One of the HVWC’s defining projects is this small press imprint that publishes the work of emerging poets. A number of the authors in this series, like Dina Ben-Lev, Rachel Loden, David Tucker and Sean Nevin, have gone on to publish full-length books. Most likely the same journey awaits the recent chapbook competition winner Stephanie Lenox.

Making Love to Leopard Man

Though I’m not a needle, let me touch you.
Let me look into the pink secret of your ear.
Let me part, one by one, your reclusive, unmarked toes.

Trust me, you are not the first man I’ve known
who thought he was an animal, who’s sharpened
his claws without knowing what to do with them.

Like continents, your bruise-green spots drift apart.
Lying beside you, I watch the ink bleed slowly
into the tiny channels of skin, edges blurring

into your yellow sea. One-hundred-six islands
I’ve counted so far: that one looks like a storm cloud,
that one at your hip like the head of a woman.

You’re not the only one who knows how to make
the body an elaborate disguise. How I wish
the children who torment you would throw stones

at the ugly hut of my life and scatter like birds
when I glare at them. I want to bathe my scars
in the isle’s dirty river. I want fangs.

Let me show you how hermit crabs do it: tap
my borrowed shell until I uncurl like a raw finger,
exposing myself to salt. Out there, I could be eaten,

I could be carried by the current into the mouth
of prey. Hold me closer with your human claws.
For now, let’s pretend we have nothing to hide.

The title of this collection is not a metaphor, it’s a literal heart outside the body, a fatal condition known as ectopia cordis. But little Christopher Wall holds the record for being the longest known survivor born with an external vital organ. He is the speaker of the poem: “I’ve lived/ so long the doctors say I’ll die// like everyone else.” And so the nature of this collection—portraits of human oddities and curiosities fit for the sideshow of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. But don’t call them “freaks.” They prefer the term “prodigies.”

In the poem above, the inspiration is the appropriately surnamed Tom Leppard, the Brit who tattooed 99.9% of his body with the prints of a—well, does it need to be said? Lenox found Leppard, and many of the other citizens of this “misfit menagerie” within the pages of the Guinness World Records, but she takes each stunning discovery and celebrates, interestingly enough, the ordinariness of it because to gawk and stare and ridicule difference is the easy response. Complexity is in finding common ground, in connecting the humanity between watcher and wonder. “Making Love to Leopard Man” operates from the conceit that it’s not the inked skin what makes him special, but the man beneath. For more on this truth, see “Bernie Bares All,” about the world’s oldest male stripper.

Lenox’s poems are playful and inventive, yet her subjects preserve their dignity. She does not exploit or explain; she simply applies a redemptive lens to these “strange people” who, at the end of the day, don’t seem so foreign after all. In fact, they come across as all-too similar. The couplet in the opening poem summarizes the nurturing relationship between the poet and her poems:

Stay close to me, my lovelies, my silly metaphors.
I will put you in one basket, all my spoiled eggs.

Congrats to Stephanie Lenox, to Slapering Hol Press. And kudos to the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center for championing writers and writing for the last twenty years!

Reprinted with permission of the author from the Poetry Foundation newsletter, 2008


 

photo: Rigoberto GonzalezRigoberto González is the author of seven books, most recently of the memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A story collection, Men without Bliss, is forthcoming. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, he writes twice a month a Latino book column, now entering its seventh year, for the El Paso Times of Texas. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, on the Board of Directors of Fishouse Poems: A Poetry Archive, and on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/ Latino activist writers. He lives in New York City and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University—Newark.

 

 

Slapering Hol Press at the Cornelia Street Café in New York City, March 31, 2008


photo: Meredith Trede at the Cornelia Street Cafe

Meredith Trede introducing the last 3 chapbook contest winners:

photo: Mary Kaiser at the Cornelia Street Cafe
photo: Sean Nevin at the Cornelia Street Cafe
photo: Stephanie Lenox at the Cornelia Street Cafe
Mary Kaiser
Sean Nevin
Stephanie Lenox


Cartoon
by Bert Johnson

 

cartoon by Bert Johnson

Bert Johnson self portrait

Bert Johnson is probably one of the
few people living in Pennsylvania that
doesn’t have multiple jpg photos of
himself. As he writes, he feels his
self-portrait above is more descriptive
anyway. After serving in the army in
“the remote epochs,” he has lived a
life of “beautiful humility.”

 

 
Newsletter edited by Susana H Case

Questions or comments? E-mail us at info@writerscenter.org or call (914) 332-5953

 

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