Poems by Margo Taft Stever
Chapbook publication by Main Street Rag,
Charlotte, North Carolina, January, 2012.
Margo Taft Stever, founder of The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center (writerscenter.org) and the founding editor of HVWC’ s Slapering Hol Press, announces the publication of her second chapbook, The Hudson Line (Main Street Rag, 2012). For information, log onto: mainstreetrag.com. Stever is an award-winning poet whose readings include the internationally acclaimed Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival and the Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai, China. Her first book, Frozen Spring (2002), was the winner of the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry, and her first chapbook, Reading the Night Sky (Introduction by Denise Levertov), won the 1996 Riverstone Poetry Chapbook Competition.
In praise of Stever’s chapbook, The Hudson Line, poet Denise Duhamel says, “Margo Taft Stever’s poems are brutal and tender, the natural world enmeshed with the mythic. She is a storyteller at heart, a poet of place and purpose. The Hudson Line is a vibrant and valiant telling, embracing both darkness and desire.”
A graduate of Harvard University, a recipient of an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an M. F. A. in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, Stever founded The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, located at the restored Philipse Manor Railroad Station. In 1990, she founded Slapering Hol Press (SHP), the small press imprint of HVWC. SHP, the oldest poetry press in Westchester County, conducts a national competition to publish chapbooks by emerging poets, special poetry chapbooks, and anthologies. The SHP Advisory Committee also organizes a reading series for emerging poets at the Writers’ Center. For publication in early 2014, Slapering Hol Press editors are currently working with The African Poetry Book Fund, Prairie Schooner, and the Poetry Foundation to publish a box set of chapbooks by seven new African poets.
Following is an interview by Laura Madeline Wiseman, editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence, and author of ten collections of poetry, which she published, Summer, 2013, in her blog, “Poemeleon: The BlogThe Habitual Poet.”
With her son, James Taft Stever and Professor Hong Shen of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, she published, Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Asia, (Zhejiang University Press, 2012). They also created a traveling exhibition of the 1905 mission with photographs by her great grandfather, Harry Fowler Woods, which was featured at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, The Nippon Club in New York, New York, View in Old Forge, New York, and Zhejiang University in Hangzho, China (www.ohiohistory.org/tafttrip). In 2013, Stever donated the “Looking East” exhibition to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site (www.nps.gov/wiho).
Margo and her horse, Game Point, earned fourth place in 2011 and third place in 2012 for the World Championship Hunter Rider Awards for Adult Amateur Hunter in the northeast region. The award is sponsored by the United States Hunter Jumper Association.
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Sleepy Hollow, New York
Ichabod, the Headless
Horseman, rolling hills, the Highlands,
villages where men tarry at the bars,
sleepy towns — Beekmantown, Tarrytown,
but who has heard of three young women
who lost their way in separate incidents
many years apart, who took shelter
at Raven’s Rock and perished in the night?
Who knows why they walked the tree-
frozen road, their fingers burnt with cold?
What is a raven but a bird, a ghost
but a raven bird, and the ghosts of three women
ravenous, waiting at Raven’s Rock
for a single man to pass by,
and did they vent their rage
for ages of wrongness,
for the unrequited, the undone love,
love forced upon them, jealous love
hardening them, these women
by the Hudson now still,
now irrevocably gone?
Three figures in white — snow queens,
their ethereal shrill pitch unbearable,
gesturing, as if the swirling snow,
eddies of snow, snow rivers
could be human, as if something
wholly frozen could be alive.