The Story of Slapering Hol Press

Slapering Hol Press logoNamed from the Old Dutch for Sleepy Hollow, Slapering Hol Press (SHP) was founded in 1989 by Margo Taft Stever to advance the national and international conversation of poetry and poetics, principally by publishing and supporting the work of emerging poets. For close to three decades, SHP has published close to forty finely crafted poetry anthologies and chapbooks by promising new poets whose work has not yet appeared in book form and has fostered collaborations between new and established authors.

Through publications, readings, and workshops, Slapering Hol Press, the small press imprint of the Hudson Valley Writers Center, has featured poets whose diverse themes of survival and hope cross cultures. On a strong foundation of aesthetic quality, Slapering Hol Press has sustained an enduring tradition of discovering new and significant voices in contemporary poetry.

In 1990, Slapering Hol Press launched its first publication, the anthology, Voices from the River. With its simple and elegant design, this anthology, which featured established poets and soon-to-become luminaries such as Hayden Carruth, Jean Valentine, Dana Gioia, Stephen Dunn, and Billy Collins, set a high aesthetic and literary standard.

After its inaugural publication, the original SHP co-editors , Margo Taft Stever and Stephanie Strickland, focused the mission of the press on publishing emerging poets. Since 1991, SHP has conducted an annual anonymously judged National Competition for the publication of a chapbook by a poet who has not previously published a poetry collection.

In 2008, SHP launched the Conversation Series, which includes publishing a chapbook of poems by two women poets, one established and one emerging, chosen by the former.

Explore our many chapbooks in our online BOOKSTORE

Meet Our Press Editors

Peggy Ellsberg, Slapering Hol Press, co-editor

Margo Taft Stever, Founder of the Hudson Valley WritersCenter; co-editor, Slapering Hol Press

Jennifer Franklin, Program Director, Co-Editor Slapering Hol Press, Poetry Instructor

SHP Advisory Committee

Cindy Beer-Fouhy
Sally Bliumis-Dunn
Marion Brown
Susana H. Case
Suzanne Cleary
Julie Danho
Ann Lauinger
Lynn McGee
Mervyn Taylor
Meredith Trede
Estha Weiner


Among the many notable achievements of our authors


Dina Ben-Lev Rhoden, the first poet chosen as the 1991 SHP winner (Note for a Missing Friend) earned an NEA fellowship, published a second chapbook, Sober on a Small Plane (1995), and won a national contest for her first full-length book, Double Helix (1995).

Rachel Loden, winner in 1998 (The Last Campaign), was subsequently awarded the 1998 Contemporary Poetry Series Competition of the University of Georgia Press for her first book, Hotel Imperium, later named one of the ten best poetry books of 2000 by the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. Her latest book, Dick of the Dead (2009), was a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award for Poetry and the California Book Award. Other awards include a fellowship from the California Arts Council and a Pushcart Prize. Two of her poems are included in editions of The Best American Poetry.

The 2001 SHP chapbook winner for The Landscape of Mind, Chinese-born Jianqing Zheng, professor of English at Mississippi Valley State University, earned a 2009 Fulbright Scholarship to China. He edits Valley Voices: A Literary Review. He has been awarded Literary Arts Fellowships (2004 and 2014) and mini-grants (2006 and 2015) from the Mississippi Arts Commission. His research focuses on contemporary American haiku, most recently his book African American Haiku: Cultural Visions(University Press of Mississippi, 2016) and Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku (University Press of Mississippi, 2009). He also directed two NEH projects on Richard Wright and on African American Literary Heritage.

The 2002 SHP contest winner, Susana H. Case, witnessed 9/11 while living in New York City. This experience impelled her to write The Scottish Café (published by Slapering Hol Press in 2002; reprint 2015) about mathematicians in Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine). They had courageously continued their work at the Scottish Cafe after they were expelled from the university by the Nazis during the Third Reich. In 2010, Seweryn Malosa translated the collection and Opole University published it as a chapbook in Poland. The Scottish Cafe is now found at Yad Vashem in Israel, at the Hebrew Union College in New York, and in many other libraries.

Nobel Prize-winning chemist from Cornell University, poet Roald Hoffmann says of the chapbook, “The Scottish Café is a wonderful evocation of a special place, a time, and the interactions of mathematicians. The premonitions of doom weigh on this wonderful gathering, as they should. It’s excellent poetry!  Poet, editor, and critic, Paul Zimmer in the Georgia Reviewadds, “It is the kind of necessary, cautionary tale of a life once lived, but lost under overwhelming conditions that our heedless, instant-media age needs to be told.”

Susana H. Case has subsequently published four chapbooks: Hiking the Desert in High Heels (Right Hand Pointing, 2005), Anthropologist in Ohio (Main Street Rag, 2005), The Cost of Heat (Pecan Grove Press, 2010), and Manual of Practical Sexual Advice (Kattywompus Press, 2011). She has published six full-length books of poetry, Elvis Presley’s Hips & Mick Jagger’s Lips(Anaphora Literary Press, 2012), Seance in Salem (Word Tech Editions, 2012), Earth and Below (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, 2014), Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press, 2017), and Erasure Syria (Recto y Verso Editions, 2018).

The 2003 SHP contest winner David Tucker published Days When Nothing Happens about his work as Managing Editor for the Newark Star Ledger. In 2005 and 2011, Tucker and his group won two Pulitzer Prizes for Breaking News Reporting. In 2007, his first full-length collection, Late for Work, winner of the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize judged by Philip Levine, was published by Houghton Mifflin. Tucker earned a 2007 Witter Bynner fellowship and read at the Library of Congress.

Sean Nevin‘s A House That Falls (2005), won the SHP Chapbook Competition. Nevin teaches writing at Drew University where he directs the MFA Program in Poetry and Translation. In 2008, he published his first full-length collection, Oblivio Gate, awarded by the Crab Orchard Series First Book Prize in Poetry. His honors include a Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry, the Alsop Review Poetry Prize, the Katherine C. Turner Academy of American Poets University Prize, and two fellowships from the Arizona Commission of the Arts.

Stephanie Lenox, winner of the 2007 SHP contest for The Heart That Lies Outside the Body, has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission of the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. Her first full-length collection, Congress of Strange People, was published by Airlie Press in 2012. Her second book, The Business, was selected by Laura Kasischke as the winner of the 2015 Colorado Prize for Poetry.

Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, by Elizabeth Alexander and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, launched SHP’s new Conversation Series in 2008. Winner of the 2007 Jackson Prize for Poetry awarded by Poets & Writers, Elizabeth Alexander is the author of ten books of poetry, including Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems, 1990-2010 (2010), Praise Song for the Day (2009), and American Sublime (2005), which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir, The Light of the World(Grand Central Publishing, 2015) has received significant critical acclaim.

Not long after SHP’s publication of the first Conversation Series chapbook, Alexander was chosen by President Barack Obama as his first inaugural poet, the third of only four such poets in our nation’s history. Alexander chose Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Associate Professor of English at Cornell University, as the emerging poet to be published in the same chapbook with an interview at the end. She was awarded the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize by Marilyn Nelson for her first full-length collection of poetry, Black Swan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002). Her second collection, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and for the 2009 National Book Award.

In 2009, Slapering Hol Press celebrated the Hudson River Quadricentennial by publishing Helen Barolini‘s best-selling Hudson River Haiku. Barolini depicts memories of the glorious vistas of the Hudson highlands as well as the Hudson River’s magnificent palisades, storms, and sunsets. Her chapbook is accompanied by Italian artist Nevio Mengacce’s remarkable watercolors.

In 2011, Denise Duhamel and Amy Lemmon collaborated on the second chapbook in the Conversation Series, Enjoy Hot or Iced: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation. Duhamel is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship, and her most most recent collection, Blowout (University of Pittsburgh, 2013) was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Two of her many previous collections, Ka-Ching (2009) and Two and Two (2005), were also published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Her poetry is widely anthologized and has appeared in eight collections of The Best American Poetry. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she is a professor of English at Florida International University of Miami. Amy Lemmon, Associate Professor of English at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City, is the author of two additional poetry collections, Fine Motor (Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Press, 2008) and Saint Nobody (Red Hen Press, 2009).

The next Conversation chapbook, A Turn Around the Mansion Grounds, by Molly Peacock and Amy M. Clark, was published in 2014. SHP launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish this collection. Widely anthologized, Molly Peacock’s poetry is included in The Best of the Best American Poetry and The Oxford Book of American Poetry, as well as in leading literary journals such as the Times Literary SupplementThe New YorkerPoetry, and The Paris Review. Her six volumes of poetry, including her 2008 collection, The Second Blush, and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems, are published by WW. Norton and Company. One of the creators of New York’s Poetry in Motion Program, Peacock co-edited Poetry In Motion: One Hundred Poems From the Subways and Buses. Amy M. Clark’s book of poems, Stray Home (University of North Texas Press, 2010), won the 2009 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and was a 2011 Must-Read selection by the Massachusetts Council for the Book. Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and VerseDaily.

HeidiLynn Nilsson‘s chapbook, The Math of Gifts, was the winner the 2015 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Prize. Her poems have been featured in the New Voices Anthology from the Academy of American Poets and American Poets emerging poets’ series. Her poems have also appeared in PloughsharesTriQuarterly, and Pleiades, among other places. Her first full-length collection, For the Fire From the Straw, was published by Barrow Street Press in 2017.

The next Conversation chapbook, The Night Could Go in Either Direction, by master poet Kim Addonizio and the emerging poet, Brittany Perham, was published in 2016. Addonizio has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books include The Philosopher’s Club (1994), Jimmy and Rita (1997), Tell Me (2000), What Is This Thing Called Love (2004),  Starlite (2009), and My Dreams out in the Street (2007). Brittany Perham is the Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. She is the author of The Curiosities (Parlor Press, 2011).

For more on our latest releases, visit our Bookstore.



Notes on Design

The distinctive and elegant design of the chapbooks has continued to be one of SHP’s many defining features. Ed Rayher of Swamp Press in Northfield, Massachusetts, has designed SHP chapbooks for many years. He is also a published poet, bookmaker, publisher, letterpress printer, and papermaker. Dave Wofford of Horse and Buggy Press has also provided many fine designs for Slapering Hol Press.


SHP chapbooks were reviewed numerous times by Paul Zimmer in Georgia Review. Additional reviews of SHP authors have also appeared in many other literary journals such as Boston Review on-line blog post, Blackbird, Booklist, Calapooya Collage, The North American Review, Gin Bender, and Book/Mark.


In 2005, the Slapering Hol Press Advisory Committee created a literary series, which takes place at the Hudson Valley Writers Center, with the mission of providing an audience for emerging poets. Two annual highlights of the series are the War & Peace Reading and the Poetry MFA Spotlight, which features three regional MFA programs.

The Slapering Hol Press Advisory Committee has also organized additional poetry readings in established venues including Cornelia Street Cafe, New York; Bowery Poetry Club, New York; The New York City Poetry Festival, Governors Island, New York; Jewish Community Center, Tarrytown, New York; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; The View, Old Forge, New York; York Art Association, York, Maine: and New England Gallery of Art, Portland Maine, among many other places.