An Historiographical Analysis of Small Presses Publishing American Avant-Garde Poetry and Poetics between 1970-2000
A Research Project funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación

Database of Small Presses


International Conference
“Poets and Publishers : Circulating Avant-Garde Poetry (1945-2010)”
Université du Maine, Le Mans, France
14-16 October 2010

Curso Universitario Interdisciplinar
“Publicar en el siglo XXI: Métodos y Prospectiva"
Universidad de La Laguna, 21-25 de noviembre 2011

Simposio de Revistas de Letras:
Visibilidad, Proyección y Calidad
Universidad de La Laguna, 29-30 de noviembre 2012


 In the last three decades of the 20th century small presses publishing avant-garde poetry and poetics emerged with an unusual vitality onto American literary scene, pushed forward by new tendencies and individual poets focused on innovative and avant-garde writing. Many attempted to lay the groundwork for new ideological and aesthetic objectives, while revising old Modernist concerns as formulated by Imagism, Objectivism, or projective verse. Although more recently some of these small presses centered on innovative and avant-garde poetry and poetics have, to a lesser extent, been identified and studied, the research that we have carried out to date leads to the initial conclusion that there is still much to be done in the period 1970-2000. Our central purpose should now be a close examination of the construction and reception of these innovative and avant-garde small presses, how they challenged former literary canons following a “systemic de-totalization” in Barrett Watten’s terms, and how sources for inspiration were found through other disciplines such as social theory, philosophy, linguistics, and art generated at both sides on the Atlantic ocean. By pressing that claim, new poetic tendencies like Ethnopoetics, New York School of Poetry, Concrete Poetry, L=a=n=g=u=a=g=e poetry, Elliptical poets, the School of Continuation, and many other individual poets like Jackson MacLow or Clark Coolidge dissociated from old poetic practices, became interested in experimentalism and in an interdisciplinary commitment. Then, an historiographical analysis based on chronology, selected topics, publication media (mimeograph, xerox, offset, or electronic editions), and the recurrent joint venture of editor-poet will help to raise awareness of the diversity and quality promoted in the poetic programs of these tendencies and individuals as published in these small presses. The bringing together of the study of poetry and poetics will provide a clear and rewarding field and will lead to an understanding of the whole range of interests. This research will reconnect the study of literature with other disciplines, and will reveal that these small presses were not only used as a cheap means of attracting a wider readership but also to refine and enhance various poetic tendencies. This emphasis on the role of these small presses will allow for a more fine-grained analysis of the transition from challenge to acceptance, and will even invite reflection on other related matters like the intellectual and literary correspondences between Europe and the United States.