Plainfield, VT 1998: I interviewed alumnus Will Hamlin about living and learning at Black Mountain College and he told me about the print shop where he had studied typesetting from Joseph Albers. He recalled, “Albers hated periods after abbreviations because they called attention to themselves and were always too black.” He retrieved a pamphlet he had printed by hand for a student production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard shortly after the College moved to the Lake Eden Campus in the late ’30s.
A few weeks later I bought a George Prouty & Sons platen press (manufactured in Boston in 1889). With a light snow falling, some friends and I strapped the press down to a truck with come-alongs and made our way home through the Green Mountains. Our early experiments in printing were full of wonder and blunders—broken chases, inky fingers and dropped cases. We printed the literary review for Goddard College, instructions for using a compost toilet, Gertrude Stein stationery, and a few short poems. I remember building up the letters of William Carlos Williams’ “A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words” early on.
But that was all pre-Cuneiform. The first book to bear the name of the Press was Luisa Giugliano’sChapter in a Day Finch Journal published in Buffalo, New York in 2000 while I was a student in the Poetics Program. Robert Creeley, Susan Howe and Charles Bernstein were the core faculty. Books by Craig Dworkin, Patrick Durgin, Ron Silliman, derek beaulieu, Johanna Drucker, and others followed.
Today, the press is based in Austin, Texas where we continue to make the best books we can.
Cuneiform Press publishes poetry, artists’ books, and scholarly editions.
Proprietor, Cuneiform Press