Poetry addressing the need for ethical and responsible living in the face of environmental crisis.
In the title poem from this new collection from Margo Taft Stever, she writes “from the end / of the time zone” where “nothing survived / after the horses were slaughtered,” a catastrophe for which no one knows whom to blame, but “The generals / and engineers pucker / and snore on the veranda.” Stever thus offers up a fable of man-made ecological disaster, and in every sense her writing in this volume is fabulous. It is also in every sense the work of a mature writer, one who has lived long and witnessed much, and who has mastered her craft, here placed in the service of the environment. She devotes much concern to animals – including a discourse on beavers – but her primary subject is human, and her purpose to provide us with cautionary tales on the necessity of ethical living. One long poem describes the accidental (and ironic) death of a relative in a cold war era fallout shelter, closing with the observation that “He had no known enemies” – except, that is, for his own folly, recalling Walt Kelly’s famous observation that when it comes to the environment, we are our own worst enemies. While it may be too late to avoid the consequences of our past environmental sins, Stever shows us a possible way forward into more harmonious and humane living in a world where there is still much beauty.
Poetry. Environment. Ecology.
Margo Taft Stever's full-length poetry collections are Cracked Piano (CavanKerry Press, 2019), which was shortlisted and received honorable mention for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Award Grand Prize, and Frozen Spring, Mid-list Press 2002 First Series Award for Poetry. Her latest of four chapbooks is Ghost Moose (Kattywompus Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in literary magazines including Verse Daily, Plant-Human Quarterly, Cincinnati Review, Rattapallax, upstreet, Salamander, West Branch, Poet Lore, Blackbird, Poem-A-Day, poets.org, Academy of American Poets, and Prairie Schooner. She co-authored Looking East: William Howard Taft and the 1905 U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Asia (Zhejiang University Press, 2012). She is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the Bioethics Department of the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Stever also teaches a poetry work-shop at Children's Village, a residential school for at-risk children and adolescents. She is founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press.