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This article is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Of Making Books Alastair Johnston

A Poetics of the Press: Interviews with Poets, Printers & Publishers, edited by Kyle Schlesinger (Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021) $30

Kyle Schlesinger’s book A Poetics of the Press contains sixteen interviews with small press publishers, mostly American, mostly letterpress printers, with one Briton (the late Tom Raworth) and one Kiwi, Alan Loney. It gives oral histories of American maverick small presses from Burning Deck to Effing Press. I am one of the interviewees, which perhaps should disqualify me from reviewing it, but I am consequently knowledgeable on the topic. There are threads that run through the book, from poets admired by all and published by some, to cultural figures (Charles Olson, Oprah!) and movements (Fluxus) that loom over many stories. Schlesinger doesn’t miss opportunities and managed to get the recalcitrant Raworth to open up a bit about Barry Hall, with whom he co-published the American poets of the mid-century at Goliard Press in London in the ‘60s, and Asa Benveniste, expatriate American who was art director of Studio Vista and publisher of the superlative Trigram Press in London at the same time. But Raworth speaks elliptically so it helps to know his biography. A typical Raworth response is this exchange:
Michael Cross: Are you working on anything now?
TR: In the sense that I’m always working on something, you know, there’s never anything I’m working on but what goes through my mind.

Lyn Hejinian of Berkeley’s Tuumba Press, who published works by Rae Armantrout and Robert Grenier ...

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