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Ohio University Southern Campus professor a published poet

Kentucky author Stephen M.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Kentucky author Stephen M. Holt, a part-time instructor at Ohio University Southern Campus, has had a book of poetry published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation.

"Late Mowing," the author’s debut collection of poems and essays, opens with a quote from Davis Grubbs:

"In the Ohio Valley it is the river that gives and takes the seasons."

And, like nature’s seasons, the book takes readers on a poetic journey in four parts, titled South Shore Seasons.

A selection of three essays – "Jesse Stuart: A Reminiscence," "Under the Apple Boughs" and "The Wurtland Merchants" – follows the poems.

Reviewers call Holt’s style delicately intense and sharp of image, where the personal is grounded in the historical – from Boone to 20th century.

In the introduction, Kathryn Stripling Byer of Cullowhee, N.C., recalled when Holt first appeared in her poetry workshop at Hindman Settlement School two years ago, and compares the writer to a landscape artist.

"Landscape pulses at the heart of these poems, and gathers together not only the natural world of the southern mountains, but the human and the historical, as well," she writes.

In the poem that shares the book’s title, Holt takes the reader on such a journey, a journey in September:

"This is the time of cobwebs strung like sculpted wire / On milkweed, wild aster & ironweed, / Of cedar waxwings gorging on crops of chokecherries.

"I swear sometimes the end of summer’s a relief from / Drooping fruit & vegetable fullness. / Fall’s a woman tired from the strains of heavy labor."

In another poem, "Nerves of Steel," Holt puts voice to another Ohio Valley familiarity:

"Deep in this dark valley, / steel rails interstice / like raw nerves exposed / to bulling trains / that clutch and pound across them / every hour."

The author will hold a book signing and reading at Russell High School’s library Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.

Books may be ordered from the Jesse Stuart Foundation, P.O. Box 391, Ashland, Ky. 41144, 1-606-325-2519.

A native of Wurtland, Ky., Holt is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, and Morehead State University, where he completed a major in French as well as master’s degrees in English and secondary education.

He has taught for 29 years in the Russell, Ky., Independent Schools and more than 10 years at OUSC. He is a recipient of Ashland Inc.’s Golden Apple Achiever Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Holt lives in Raceland, Ky., where he shares his home with his wife, Linda, and their miniature poodle, Kismet. A daughter, Chaille Brook Ahumada, lives in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., with husband Guillermo.