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16 Years of Chapbook Publication, 17 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.

Poem below from Stephanie Lenox’s The Heart That Lies Outside the Body, winner of the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

photo: Stephanie LenoxStephanie Lenox received an MFA in poetry from the University of Idaho. Her work can be found in Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Washington Square, among others, and online in DIAGRAM and AGNI. Her work has been anthologized in Best New Poets 2006 and published as a limited-edition broadside by the Center for Book Arts. She is a recipient of a 2007 Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and works as Promotions Director for a children’s museum in Salem, Oregon. She is co-editor of the online literary journal Blood Orange Review.

Issue 7, October 2007


OUR 2nd FRIDAY READING SERIES
AT THE WRITERS' CENTER
RESUMES THIS MONTH

See calendar for details

Chris Meatto reports below on
Paul Reickhoff’s reading at HVWC
from his book, Chasing Ghosts:
A Soldier’s Fight for America
from Baghdad to Washington


Poem below from Jo Ann Clark’s Cancelled Safari, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

photo: Jo Ann ClarkJo Ann Clark's poems and translations have appeared in Reactions, Link, The Western Humanities Review, The New Republic and The Paris Review, among others. She earned an MFA from Columbia University and has taught literature and writing in Rome and at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She recently completed a three-year tenure as Director of CITYterm at The Masters School.

 


Poem below from Michael Colonnese’s A Mercy, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

photo: Michael ColonneseMichael Colonnese is the Managing Editor of Longleaf Press. A professor of English, he teaches poetry, fiction, and screenwriting at Methodist University, where he directs the Creative Writing Program. His own short stories and poems have appeared widely and, as a documentary film-maker, his work has aired on public television.


Poem below from Judy Halebsky’s Japanese For Daydreamers, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

photo: Judy HalebskyJudy Halebsky has an M.F.A. from Mills College and is working towards a PhD in Performance Studies at UC Davis. She has also studied at the Kanazawa College of Art in Japan. She has created visual poetry installations at the Oakland Museum of California and the Oakland Metro Theatre. Her collaborative performance texts have been staged at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and 21 Grand in Oakland. She was recently awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship.

*The Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition is open to writers who have not published a collection of poems in book or chapbook form. Entrants should submit a collection of poems, or one long poem, limited to 16-20 pages.
*Manuscripts should include a title page (title only), and a separate cover sheet with the title of the work, the author's name, address, phone number, e-mail address, a bio, and acknowledgments. Manuscripts will not be returned.
*Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for results only. If you would like a notification of receipt of manuscript, include a self-addressed and stamped postcard.
*Enclose a $15 reading fee. Poets may submit more than one collection, but a $15 reading fee must accompany each entry. Make checks payable to The Hudson Valley Writers' Center.
*If you would like a copy of one of our previous winners, which we will select for you, enclose an 8 x 10 or larger envelope with $1.83 in postage affixed.
*Entries must be postmarked by May 15, 2008. The winner will be announced in September 2008. The prize for the winner of the 2008 competition is a $1000 cash award, publication, ten books, and a reading at The Hudson Valley Writers' Center. In addition, a second chapbook may be published from the entries.
*Send entries to: Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition, The Hudson Valley Writers' Center, 300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

 

Chris Meatto reports on Paul Reickhoff’s reading at HVWC from his book, Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington

Some time ago, there was news from Baghdad that another suicide bomb attack had been executed, this time striking at the Mutanabi book market. More than two dozen were killed and many more wounded, as pieces of books and sheets of paper fell from the smoke above to join the victims and the rubble on the ground. I heard this over the radio, as part of an NPR report, while I was driving along the quiet, tree-lined roads of Sleepy Hollow, a million miles away from a place where someone would strap explosives to himself, or pack it tight in the back of his car, and race headlong into a crowd of patrons milling around the stalls of a downtown book emporium. Distance aside, I am able to envision this because of the seemingly continuous flashes of similarly, and absurdly, violent acts that the news brings each day and night; the news comes and I turn it up because I want, need to know, or sometimes down, the way my parents will, whose friends died in Southeast Asia thirty years ago and can’t bear the thought of hearing about young soldiers dying any more. I have a picture in my mind because I read books and watch movies and television programs where characters fictional or perhaps reality-based perpetrate or react to such acts. And of course, I know about what goes on because of men and women like Paul Rieckhoff, who tell their gunmetal gray stories, forged in the crucibles of war’s aweful front lines.

Everything, in a sense, comes down to communication for Paul Rieckhoff. As a First Lieutenant and Light Infantry Platoon Leader serving in the first wave of operations in the Iraqi War, the safety of his unit, the success of their mission or duty, and indeed the integrity of American presence in Iraq depended upon his understanding of orders as they were handed down to him, then followed by how he explained and issued them to the soldiers in his command. Misreads, the breakdown of articulation, the failure to act and direct and adapt—these all had extremely dangerous and immediate reverberations.

In the months following his return from duty, Rieckhoff became, by many accounts, the first veteran from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan to speak out about the conditions on the ground. One of the more staggering realities of daily troop life, which Rieckhoff attacks in his book, for example, is the deplorable condition of standard issue military equipment. Conscious of, and grappling with the possible fallout from a soldier addressing these issues while the wars still raged, he came to a crucial decision: because most Americans had no real concept of daily life as a soldier in the Middle East, and because the safety of his fellow servicemen and –women depended upon fixing glaring problems with the effort, he was bound to raise public awareness and scrutiny. He began making the media rounds on national television and radio programs, and even did a brief, and ultimately disheartening, stint on the 2004 Kerry campaign as a veteran consultant of sorts.

Weeks spent on the road delivering lectures in college auditoriums and on-air addresses convinced Rieckhoff that there was still more to do. He would go on to become the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the first association of its kind, whose mission statement promises that it is “dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans.” He readily admits that it is an apolitical group largely unconcerned with picking a side of “the aisle,” though commentators, pundits, and this author still have asked him where he and his group push their chips.

Rieckhoff the author put down his rousing, intense, and cautionary tale of the myriad battles swirling around the war as he saw them, in Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington. One of the things he is especially satisfied with about the book is its approachability; told almost in the honest style of a journal. Rieckhoff appreciates when someone tells him that it was an easy-read: that means its getting through to people. Rieckhoff the activist, and, for lack of a better and less tainted term, lobbyist.

I met Mr. Rieckhoff at the Veterans’ Day reading he gave at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center. He is a tall, broad man who spoke with a rasping eloquence that said he’d seen enough, over there, back here. Recently, when we spoke over the phone, he told me to call him Paul, and he was every bit as approachable, honest, passionate, pissed-off, and inspired as he comes across in Chasing Ghosts.

When I asked Rieckhoff what he made of the change in rhetoric we’ve heard coming from Washington, and in particular the White House, from “support the President” to “support the troops,” he jumped in to aver that it changes very little. “[Washington] is still a deeply divided, partisan city. You can feel the tensions and divides, and it seems that the people there are more concerned with protecting their political futures than the country. The system,” he went on, “has hampered political courage; there’s no real exchange of new ideas, or a will to work together in the face of adversity—that’s the opposite of what you see in the military [where there is] complete solidarity and a common goal. Here, there is no self-sacrifice.” He added that with this change in rhetoric comes the dangerous shifting of the majority of the responsibility onto the Iraqi people. “It’s like convincing a kid with a broken leg to run a marathon,” he said, “and then blaming it on him when he doesn’t finish. We opened up a hornets’ nest over there, and most Iraqis would tell you they were better off in 2002. That’s one of the reasons we’re losing over there.

Indeed, there are just as many episodes in Chasing Ghosts describing instances of flourishing collaboration between Rieckhoff and his troops and supportive Iraqis as there are crucial moments where resistance from local workers or doctors nearly led to calamitous results.

Though written long before the President’s late spring call for and the ensuing debate over troop escalation, Rieckhoff writes that “the bottom will start to drop out of America’s military.” It has been nearly ten years since Mr. Rieckhoff first signed up in the United States Army National Guard, and in that time, every day and all day, he has been devoted to the efficacy, practice, and primacy of effective communication and language.


photo: Chris MeattoChris Lillis Meatto grew up in Sleepy Hollow. In 2006 he graduated from Brown University, where he was awarded the Weston Fine Arts Prize for Undergraduate Fiction.

 


Making Love to Leopard Man

Tom Leppard (UK) has approximately 99.9% of his body covered in tattoos …a leopard-skin design…. Tom now lives as a hermit on the Isle of Skye. Guinness World Records

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.


By Stephanie Lenox

From The Heart That Lies Outside the Body, winner of the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest
The poem was previously published in Hayden's Ferry Review before it was selected for Best New Poets, 2006.

 


Cancelled Safari

The canny, not unfriendly guide
poles the mokoro through the vrei,
one eye for kudu on crocodile watch,
his other plotting the way.

As southern skies constellate
above the veld, the kraal,
day-hunters retreat to gnashing and purr—
lion feasting on kill.

An acacia wood fire crackles, glows,
black rhinos drowse, or lumber;
the first breathings in of scented smoke
stir who slumber.

Tsetse flies disappear with the last blue.
Hippos start to roar…
Far off all the while, we languish at home
fevering of here.

By Jo Ann Clark

From Cancelled Safari, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

 


Whitetail Deer in the College Library

It burst through a mirror
of reflective silver foil
tinting the plate glass—
a whitetail deer, a buck—
to stand in a shower of bloody shards,
darkeyed and dazed
by the circulation desk
where an assistant librarian
was barcoding acquisitions,
and hesitated for only a moment
before leaping out again
into a world beyond
books and shattered glass
to rush across the cold October lawn
and into the orange-red blaze
of scrub oak.
For weeks afterwards,
the incident stayed with me
and I felt compelled
to mention it to my students,
whispering with a kind
of reverence whenever I pointed
to the boarded-up window
and knowing that very few
would understand
why I felt diminished
by that wild thing, that visitor.

By Michael Colonnese

From A Mercy, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest
A slightly different version of this poem was first published in The Lyricist in Spring of 2000.

 


Red Hollow

I mark days in lines on the bedpost
bathe in salt water and ice cream

please don’t tell anyone about the salt
or the midnight radio
or the patterns in my blood

I believe in skiing over the rocks when the snow is thin

when my mother got cancer she said
the goal now is to die of something else

I’d be better off with faith

My father is calling Karl Marx a prophet

we danced our feet crunching in back yard snow

getting better is something to say
instead of grave or progressive

we are sword fighting in shadows on the wall
we are walking through the woods with wet mittens
we are reading the sign by the lake that says the ice will hold

I believe in throwing all my dresses off the roof

By Judy Halebsky

From Japanese For Daydreamers, finalist in the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest

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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