Praise for The Hudson Line:

Margo Taft Stever’s The Hudson Line is a collection that offers us many lyrical gifts of observation, address, tone, and insight. I found myself particularly interested in Stever’s ability to build the depth of her character’s perception with an image or repetition in lines. We meet a man who “pounds his piano / with dumb passion” and a woman who “forgot to ask him something. She forgot what she forgot to ask.” This is memorable speech. ...We know that Stever is paying attentiveness to sounds and images of English that make the language alive, make it new. ...What The Hudson Line gives us, in the end, is the work of the poet whose empathy to others, and to the very landscape, is always rooted in the detail of her craft. The detail here is crystallized into lyric, and the lyric is memorable. This is a beautiful book.
— Ilya Kaminsky

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.
— Denise Duhamel

In the title poem of her long-awaited The Hudson Line, Margo Taft Stever writes, “This is a train of thieves, all of us/who never cared for our jobs or our mother’s.” In “The Quickening” she writes, “An apple sapling planted/in a hollow stump/blossoms.” Stever’s vision and language are stark and unflinching, as is the strange beauty she conjures.
— Suzanne Cleary

Praise for Frozen Spring

Margo Taft Stever listens to every sound, every edge of word that she uses here, so to “get said what must be said” in an otherwise brutal world. She is an impeccable poet, and this book proves it absolutely. .
— Robert Creeley

Unfolding in a series of surprising metaphors and startling linkages, Margo Taft Stever’s lyrics move us from the ordinary into a realm of imagination and language whose only name is poetry.
— Billy Collins

This collection of poems includes horses and oceans, a lost life of orchards and fields, the ghost of a dominant mother, a dead father, five siblings, and numerous half-suppressed fears for the poet’s own children. For this wonderful first book, the natural world plays a major role—sometimes harsh, sometimes lyrical—but always beautiful.
— Maxine Kumin

Margo Taft SteverMargo Taft Stever would like to announce that  in 2019, CavanKerry Press, LaurelBooks Imprint, will publish her second full-length poetry collection, CRACKED PIANO. In 2015, Kattywompus Press 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), 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.

She is also the founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center (HVWC) and the founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press, the Center’s small press imprint. Her chapbook, The Hudson Line, was published by Main Street Rag in 2012. For more information, log onto:

Stever is an award-winning poet whose readings include the internationally acclaimed Troubadour Café, The Hudson Line by Margo SteverLondon; Cornelia Street Café, 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.

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 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 new 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 ( In 2013, Stever donated the “Looking East” exhibition to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site ( 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.

Watch Stever’s Presentation on W.H. Taft and the 1905 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Asia at the University of Cincinnati, February, 2014 on Youtube

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.


A film about the Hudson Valley Writers Center created by Oscar Pak, a high school student, for the HVWC Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration and Gala.




Bottom Land

Evening tidings, the preparations,
each nestle, each cheep, like chicks calling,
the winnowing anomaly, anomie, all
come to call too late, come
to call for sleep.

How a mother can change from angel
to sour mudqueen of all decay
by those who feel the sting, by those
who cry out.

Flail my heart upon the stone
in the grove near the riverbank,
rushing water to the river break.
Even the known becomes unknowable.
Their small eyes look at me like chicks
gathered against rain, staved.

Thin rivulets of fear, running-away-
with-itself fear, fearful fear.
No one can talk to you, no one
can listen, no one can touch you.
This is not stillness, this is not the keeper
of the estuary of the deep.

Don’t forget me, don’t forget that hill
the horses cantered you down
to the bottom land.
From this stone, ageless heart,
remember your mother,
a mother who loved her children.

First published in Prairie Schooner,
Spring, 2014.


Idiot’s Guide to Counting

How do you become one
with the horse, riding and becoming
the act of riding,
and the horse becoming the self
and the other at exactly
the same second, counting strides,
counting muscle movement,
counting fences, hurtling over
them with the horse, counting
the everything
of one?

How do you count, how do you
pull a muscle turning over
in bed at night—measurements
that change everything, counting
back to everything, the everything
of one, the pulled muscles of the back
of one, the entanglement
of one, the waves of particles
counting back, the quantum?

How to become one with
the branches of a tree, a grandfather
tree in an apple orchard
that no longer exists?
Separate one
from tree, horse,
counting numbers, counting
the grandfather tree
to find the solution of

Counting trees, leaves, counting
everything as no longer
existing, counting
trees as one with the everything
that no longer exists.

First published in Blackbird under “Idiot’s Guide to Counting.”


From The Hudson Line:

Splitting Wood

It was the thought of his entering
their infant's room that drove her.

She remembered his face the first time
she saw him. Now, half gone from whiskey,
eyes hooded like a hawk’s,
he said he’d kill the children when he woke.

The neighbors heard it,
the screams. They heard.

His workman’s hand,
his gnarled hand dangled down.
The knife lay by the bed.
She slipped from the covers
while he slept, placed her feet
on the floorboards just so.

The dogs barked outside, snapdragons,
flowered tongues, and all the wired
faces of the past strung up. The ax
hung on the porch, woodpile nearby,
each log plotted, uneasily entwined.
The children’s tears were rain,
tears were watering the parched hills.

The wild moon foamed at the mouth.
The wild moon crept softly at her feet.

The arms that grabbed the ax
were not her own,
that hugged it to her heart
while he slept were not hers,
the cold blade sinking in his skin.
She grew up in the country splitting wood.
She knew just how much it took
to bring a limb down.

First published in the Connecticut Review.