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17 Years of Chapbook Publication, 18 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, Elizabeth Alexander
and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon,
authors of Slapering Hol Press’s recently
published Poems in Conversation and a
, a collaborative chapbook.
Issue 11, October 2008


Our reading series
at the Writers' Center
is on most 2nd Fridays this fall.

Upcoming readings:
NOVEMBER 14TH, 7:30 pm
Writers & Poets on War & Peace

DECEMBER 12TH, 7:30 pm
Elizabeth Alexander and
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

See calendar for details



Carver's Song

by Elizabeth Alexander

Pour liquid from a cruet to a test-tube
and wait. Glassy music as the vessels clink.
Will it fizzle? Change colors? Congeal? Dissolve? Wait.

Oh peanut, oh sweet potato,
What I will do with you?
What I will find in you?

What is contained in you?
What is derived from you?
You are humble and magnificent, infinite.

Conjugate conditional,
What could be?
I dream the periodic table spinning:

What will happen, what could.


photo: Elizabeth AlexanderELIZABETH ALEXANDER is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher. She is the author of four books of poems, The Venus Hottentot, Body of Life, Antebellum Dream Book, and American Sublime, which was one of three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She is also a scholar of African-American literature and culture and recently published a collection of essays, The Black Interior. She has read her work across the U.S. and in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, and her poetry, short stories, and critical prose have been published in dozens of periodicals and anthologies. She has received many grants and honors, most recently the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954,” and the 2007 Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets and Writers. She is a professor at Yale University, and for the academic year 2007-2008 she is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.


Bop: The North Star

by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

—Auburn, NY

Polaris sits still in the sky and if I knew
which one it was I could follow it all the way
to Auburn. Oh, Harriet, who did not need the poise
of freedom knocked into your head like sense, who found it more
than possible to sleep, pistol shoved deep into your pocket
along this route, I cannot tell a dipper from Orion.

Yes, the springtime needed you. Many a star was waiting
for your eyes only.

The university twinkles on the hill above my house.
The fat moon rises and a girl holds out her arms. She twirls
in a blue Polly Flinders dress. Mama’s precious
cameo— a white woman’s silhouette on black satin ribbon
choker tied around her neck. Poise begins here:
in cinders, in rhyme, in splintering beauty into this and this—:
the image at my throat: the summer’s pitching
constellations: the ten o’clock scholar’s midnight lesson.

Yes, the springtime needed you. Many a star was waiting
for your eyes only.

At the prison at Auburn I cross the yard. Inmates whet tongues against
my body: cement-sculpted—: poised for hate—: pitch compliments
like coins: —(wade)— their silver slickening —(in the water)—:
uncollected change. A guard asks Think they’re beautiful? just wait
til they’re out here stabbing each other. Oh, Harriet, the stars
throw down shanks—: teach the sonnet’s a cell—: now try to escape—

Yes, the springtime needed you. Many a star was waiting
for your eyes only.

photo: Lyrae Van Clief-StefanonLYRAE VAN CLIEF-STEFANON is the author of Open Interval (forthcoming, University of Pittsburgh Press) and Black Swan (University of Pittsburgh Press), winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in such journals as African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Shenandoah, and in the anthologies Bum Rush the Page, Role Call, Common Wealth, Gathering Ground, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. She is currently at work on a new collection, Southern Gate. She teaches in the creative writing program at Cornell University.

To order Poems in Conversation and a Conversation please click here: ORDER FORM


The winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition is:

Liz Ahl, A Thirst That's Partly Mine

The finalists are:

Joan Dy, The Taste Of Saltwater

Ted Gilley, Password

Keetje Kuipers, Last To Be Told

Rhett Watts, No Innocent Eye


Watch for the next issue of this newsletter for more about these poets and excerpts from their manuscripts.

Newsletter edited by Susana H Case


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