In April, 2019, CavanKerry Press published Margo Taft Stever’s full-length book, Cracked Piano.
From her compelling descriptions of life inside a nineteenth-century insane asylum to her colorful and often critical depiction of elements of contemporary society, Stever’s poems profoundly speak to us. She speaks to us about our interactions with each other and with the natural world. Each poem tells its own story that captures us and makes us think.
As poet Fred Marchant states, “The taut, unflinching lyricism of this work reminds us of the courage it takes to see our lives as they are. These are poems that affirm the saving grace that we remain ready and eager to sing in our sorrow, even if the accompaniment is only a cracked piano.”
Her chapbook, Ghost Moose, was also published by Kattywompus Press in April, 2019. The chapbook is about our present and future during the ongoing sixth extinction, the greatest mass extinction in the history of the earth, the only one precipitated by humans.
Stever is an award-winning poet whose readings include the internationally acclaimed Troubadour Café, London; Bowery Poetry Club, New York; Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival, Newark; and the Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai. 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. Her chapbook, The Hudson Line, was published by Main Street Rag in 2012.
In 2015, Kattywompus Press also published her chapbook,The Lunatic Ball. Also, the same year, the University of Cincinnati and Zhejiang University press collaborated on the publication of the English-language version of Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Asia, The Photographs of Harry Fowler Woods (Orange Frazier Press, 2015), by Margo Taft Stever and James Taft Stever, a book of narrative historical analysis of the mission accompanied by hundreds of antique photographs taken during the trip. In 2012, Zhejiang University Press published the Chinese-language version of the book.
Stever is 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. After establishing the Sleepy Hollow Poetry Series at the Warner Library in 1983, Stever founded the Hudson Valley Writers Center, located at the restored Philipse Manor Railroad Station. She also had overall management responsibilities for the station restoration. She was the primary fundraiser for the building renovation and for the Center.
In 1990, she founded and is a current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press (SHP), the small press imprint of HVWC. Slapering Hol Press is now the oldest poetry press in Westchester County and one of the longest-standing chapbook presses in the United States. SHP conducts a national competition to feature chapbooks by emerging poets and publishes special poetry chapbooks and anthologies. The SHP Advisory Committee also organizes a reading series for emerging poets at the Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow.
Following is an interview by Laura Madeline Wiseman, poet and editor of the anthology, Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence, which she published in her blog, “Poemeleon: The Blog—The Habitual Poet,” Summer, 2013. The interview also appears on Laura Madeline Wiseman’s website, comprised of interviews of many poets on the chapbook as a popular form for presenting poetry in the new millennium.
With her son, James Taft Stever and Professor Hong Shen of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, Stever published Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Asia, The Photographs of Harry Fowler Woods (Zhejiang University Press, 2012). She also created a traveling “Looking East” exhibition of the 1905 mission with photographs by her great grandfather, Harry Fowler Woods, which was featured numerous times including most recently in 2018 and at William Howard Taft’s birthday celebration at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio; The Nippon Club in New York, New York; the View in Old Forge, New York; and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. The Woods family donated the five original photography albums to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
In 2018, with the assistance of the Friends of William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Stever donated the exhibition to the Cincinnati Museum Center. She also donated a hard drive of the H.F. Woods photographs of the 1905 Mission and of 1905-06 photographs of Burma, India, Egypt, and Greece to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Francesca Maxime of Arise TV, interviews Jennifer Franklin and Margo Taft Stever, two co-editors of Slapering Hol Press, talk about the seven new generation African poets published in a collaboration between Slapering Hol Press, Prairie Schooner, and the Poetry Foundation.
She is a proud partner in an organic farm, Generation Farm, which was established in 2012 by her son, James Taft Stever and certified by the U.S.D.A. from 2012 until the present. James Stever operates Generation Farm with his wife, Marley Stever. Visit Generation Farm on Facebook or visit their website: www. generationfarmnh.com.
From Oscar Pak’s film about the Hudson Valley Writers Center, 2018.