Online Exhibitions

Literary Publishing in Tucson Since 1960

The years since the Poetry Center’s founding in 1960 have been an important time in Tucson’s literary publishing history. Tucson literary publishers are diverse, but common threads include an emphasis on innovative writing and Southwestern poets, including American Indian and Chicano/Latino voices, and strong roots in the fine press and/or DIY traditions.

A survey of contemporary press work in Tucson reveals many Poetry Center connections. Some of the publishers featured here are alumni or faculty of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program. Some of them fueled their interest in design and publishing as staff, volunteers, or library patrons here at the Poetry Center. Many of them were a part of the Poetry Center’s Tucson Lit Press Fest on Saturday, March 26, 2011. All of them are friends and admired partners in our shared endeavor to make Tucson a thriving center for literary culture.

This exhibit, curated by Wendy Burk, was originally presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery of the University of Arizona Poetry Center from February 28 to April 9, 2011.

Try Ironwood
Try Ironwood: An Editor Remembers by Michael Cuddihy

Michael Cuddihy. Try Ironwood: An Editor Remembers (review copy). Boston: Rowan Tree Press, 1990.

When Michael Cuddihy founded the literary magazine Ironwood with his spouse Mary in 1972, one of his first acts was to solicit work from some of the poets he had befriended as a library patron at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, including Charles Simic, Diane Wakoski, and John Haines. Inspired by cutting-edge journals like Kayak and Origin, Ironwood became one of the nation’s premiere literary magazines up until it ceased publishing in 1988. Try Ironwood is Michael Cuddihy’s delightful firsthand account of the history of Ironwood and the many leading poets who trusted him first with their work.

Ironwood
Ironwood no. 1, 1972
Ironwood 9.2 (no. 18, 1981)

Ironwood no. 1 (1972) and 9.2 (no. 18, 1981).

Ironwood’s list of contributors is a who’s-who of U.S. poets of the 1970s and 1980s. Ai appeared in the first issue—one year before publishing her first book, Cruelty, and the same year that she gave a reading for the Poetry Center—as did Wendell Berry, W. S. Merwin, and C. K. Williams. In 1981, Ironwood was the journal that introduced U.S. readers to a then–little-known Polish Nobel Prize winner: Czesław Miłosz.

Separate Creatures by Steve Orlen (Ironwood Press)
Separate Creatures by Steve Orlen

Steve Orlen. Separate Creatures. Ironwood Press, 1976.

Ironwood Press, an offshoot of the journal, published chapbooks--including one in 1976 by a young University of Arizona professor known to all of us as Steve, but here credited as “Steven” Orlen.

Michael Cuddihy, LaVerne Harrell Clark, and Lois Shelton in 1972
Michael Cuddihy in 1972
Michael Cuddihy, LaVerne Harrell Clark, and Lois Shelton in 1972

Michael Cuddihy, March 1972

LaVerne Harrell Clark, Michael Cuddihy, and Lois Shelton, March 1972

Photos by LaVerne Harrell Clark

University of Arizona Press: Sun Tracks
Maso Bwikam: Yaqui Deer Songs by Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina
Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay by Nora Naranjo-Morse

Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina. Maso Bwikam: Yaqui Deer Songs. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987.

Nora Naranjo-Morse. Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1992.

The University of Arizona Press, founded in 1959, publishes two literary series that are essential homes for Chicano/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native poets and their readers. The series Sun Tracks began in 1971 as an American Indian literary magazine sponsored by the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies and English Departments. In 1981, UA Press assumed responsibility for the series, which had begun publishing books. Currently under the direction of Series Editor and University of Arizona Regents’ Professor Ofelia Zepeda, Sun Tracks has published first books by such acclaimed poets as Simon J. Ortiz and, more recently, Sherwin Bitsui, as well as collections by poets from Luci Tapahonso to Joy Harjo. Many Sun Tracks poets have long-standing relationships with the Poetry Center and are featured on voca, our online audio video library (http://voca.arizona.edu).

A Radiant Curve by Luci Tapahonso (University of Arizona Press: Sun Tracks)
A Radiant Curve by Luci Tapahonso
Luci Tapahonso in 1999

Luci Tapahonso. A Radiant Curve. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008.

Luci Tapahonso, 1999

Photo by Christine Krikliwy

Simon Ortiz (University of Arizona Press: Sun Tracks)
Photograph of Simon Ortiz by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Simon Ortiz, 1976

Photo by LaVerne Harrell Clark

University of Arizona Press: Camino del Sol
The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems by Rane Arroyo
The Devil's Workshop by Demetria Martínez

Rane Arroyo. The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008.

Demetria Martínez. The Devil’s Workshop. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2002.

The University of Arizona Press's Camino del Sol series recently celebrated fifteen years as a visionary publisher of Chicano/Latino authors. Poet, prose writer, and editor Ray González proposed the series to UA Press and served as its first editor. Represented in the series are luminary Chicana/o poets such as Juan Felipe Herrera, Pat Mora, and Demetria Martínez, as well as those who trace their roots to other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Rane Arroyo and Maurice Kilwein Guevara. Many Camino del Sol poets have long-standing relationships with the Poetry Center and are featured on voca, our online audio video library (http://voca.arizona.edu).

SUN/gemini Press
The Parallel Voyages by Paul Blackburn
Easy Victory by Peter Wild

Paul Blackburn. The Parallel Voyages. Trade and limited editions. Tucson: SUN/gemini Press, 1987.

Peter Wild. Easy Victory. Tucson: SUN/gemini Press, 1994.

SUN/gemini Press was founded in the 1980s by Clint Colby, also a co-founder of the Tucson Poetry Festival. SUN/gemini’s early offerings are characterized by a beautiful double presentation: a limited-edition, often illustrated letterpress book published alongside a trade paperback of the same text. Later SUN/gemini offerings included chapbooks under the Sun Lizard imprint and trade editions. Charles Alexander of Chax Press, also featured in this exhibit, notes that the quality of design, materials, and binding in SUN/gemini’s limited and trade editions was exceptionally high and has served to inspire other publishers.

Clint Colby’s professional background as an archivist with the University of Arizona Library Special Collections gave him ties to notable presses, such as Black Sparrow, and poets, such as Clayton Eshleman, Diane Wakoski, and Paul Blackburn. Publishing these authors was an important motivation for SUN/gemini’s founding. Also important was publishing Tucson poets, including Becky Byrkit, Richard Shelton, Peter Wild, and Agha Shahid Ali.

Hohokam by Richard Shelton (SUN/gemini Press)
Hohokam by Richard Shelton
Photograph of Richard Shelton by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Richard Shelton. Hohokam. Trade and limited editions. Tucson: SUN/gemini Press, 1986.

Richard Shelton, 1970

Photo by LaVerne Harrell Clark

Agha Shahid Ali and Becky Byrkit (SUN/gemini Press)
Photograph of Agha Shahid Ali by LaVerne Harrell Clark
Photograph of Becky Byrkit by Christine Krikliwy

Agha Shahid Ali, 1985

Photo by LaVerne Harrell Clark

SUN/gemini author Becky Byrkit shelves books at the Cherry Street Poetry Center as a student worker in the 1990s.

Photo by Christine Krikliwy

 

Chax Press
Umbra by Charles Bernstein
Individuals by Lyn Hejinian and Kit Robertson

Charles Bernstein. Umbra. Tucson: Chax Press, 2010.

Lyn Hejinian and Kit Robertson. Individuals. Tucson: Chax Press, 1988.

Chax Press

Poet and bookmaker Charles Alexander moved to Tucson from Madison, Wisconsin in 1984, and immediately made his mark by founding Chax Press. Named in affectionate homage to the publisher’s father, who was also named Charles Alexander, Chax combines a devotion to experimental poetry with exquisite fine press work, reflecting Alexander’s early training in the book arts under Walter Samuel Hamady of The Perishable Press Limited. Chax has now added trade editions to its hallmark chapbooks, handmade books, and broadsides. The press also sponsors poetry readings by avant-garde writers, often in conjunction with Tucson’s POG (Poetry Group).

Jackson Mac Low’s innovative book French Sonnets was the first volume of poetry that Charles Alexander published in Tucson (he had begun this project in Wisconsin with Black Mesa Press). The hand-painted art gracing many Chax Press books, such as Charles Bernstein’s Umbra and Jane Miller’s “New Body,” is by artist Cynthia Miller, Charles Alexander’s spouse, who studied Creative Writing and painting at the University of Arizona.

New Body by Jane Miller (SUN/gemini Press and Chax Press)
New Body by Jane Miller
Photograph of Jane Miller with Olga Broumas

Jane Miller. "New Body." Ill. Cynthia Miller. Tucson: SUN/gemini Press and Chax Press, 1988.

Jane Miller with Olga Broumas

Photographer unknown

Kore Press
Girls in the Jungle by Alison Hawthorne Deming
Photograph of Karen Falkenstrom by Christine Krikliwy

Alison Hawthorne Deming. Girls in the Jungle: What Does it Take for a Woman to Survive as an Artist? Tucson: Kore Press, 1995.

Karen Falkenstrom performs with Odaiko Sonora at the Poetry Center’s Housewarming Festival, October 2007

Photo by Christine Krikliwy

Kore Press was founded in Tucson in 1993 by University of Arizona Creative Writing alumnae Lisa Bowden and Karen Falkenstrom. The word kore (κόρη) means “girl” or “daughter” in classical Greek and is often used to refer to Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, who represents rebirth and the cycling of the seasons in Greek mythology. Since its first offering, a pamphlet of advice to women writers by former Poetry Center director and Creative Writing Professor Alison Hawthorne Deming, Kore has been a national leader in publishing women writers, including traditionally underrepresented voices and transgendered writers.

Co-founder Karen Falkenstrom—now the Outreach and Production Director for Odaiko Sonora, a Japanese taiko drum ensemble—is a former Poetry Center staff member, and many books in the Center’s collection bear inscriptions from visiting poets in thanks for her kindness. With fiction editor Shannon Cain, Lisa Bowden continues to edit the press today, as well as direct its growing educational programs, fostering a spirit of literary activism among young women and transgendered youth.

Helen Groves by Olga Broumas and T. Begley (Kore Press)
Helen Groves by Olga Broumas and T. Begley
Photograph of Olga Broumas by Lois Shelton

Olga Broumas and T. Begley. Helen Groves. Tucson: Kore Press, 1994.

Olga Broumas, October 1988

Photo by Lois Shelton

in or out by Ani DiFranco (Kore Press)
in or out by Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco. “in or out.” Tucson: Kore Press, 1999. Text copyright 1992 Righteous Babe Music.

Earth Movements/Jewed 'I-Hoi by Ofelia Zepeda (Kore Press)
Earth Movements/Jewed 'I-Hoi by Ofelia Zepeda

Ofelia Zepeda. Earth Movements/Jewed ‘I-Hoi. Tucson: Kore Press, 1997.

University of Arizona and Pima Community College Literary Magazines: you are here and Persona
you are here: the journal of creative geography
Persona

The academic and youth literary communities in Tucson also have a rich publication tradition. Here we’ve included a sampling of publications that demonstrate the diversity and depth of literary magazines published by and for Tucson students.

you are here: the journal of creative geography has been published by the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development since 1988; the journal publishes creative work that interrogates the concept of place.

The student-run magazine Persona, founded in 1978 and published annually, is exclusively devoted to the work of University of Arizona undergraduates.

University of Arizona and Pima Community College Literary Magazines: Sonora Review and Red Ink
Sonora Review
Red Ink

Founded in 1980, Sonora Review is the literary journal of the University of Arizona MFA Program in Creative Writing and the oldest graduate-student-run literary journal in the United States.

Red Ink, run by graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Arizona through the American Indian Studies Program, publishes creative and scholarly work by emerging and established American Indian writers.

University of Arizona and Pima Community College Literary Magazines: SandScript and Tongue
SandScript
Tongue

SandScript is an award-winning literary journal from Pima Community College, publishing work from Pima students and beyond.

Tongue, a student-run literary magazine, was published at the University of Arizona from the late 1960s through the early 1970s.

University of Arizona and Pima Community College Literary Magazines: Inside/Out and Dancing with the Wind
Inside/Out
Dancing with the Wind

The unique magazine Inside/Out, founded in 2006,seeks to build a literary dialogue between students at Pima Vocational High School and incarcerated youth.

Dancing with the Wind was founded in 1989 by ArtsReach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving American Indian students.

New Stars of the Tucson Publishing Scene: Spork and Spork Press
Spork
Overtakelessness by Dan Beachy-Quick

Spork 1:1 (Summer 2001).

Dan Beachy-Quick. Overtakelessness. Tucson: Spork Press, 2010.

Founded in 2001 by Richard Siken and Drew Burk, Spork is an innovative literary journal that strives to push the envelope in terms of both content and construction. Each hand-bound journal is issued in limited copy runs. Spork Press also publishes limited-edition, handmade chapbooks.

Richard Siken of Spork Press
Photograph of Richard Siken by Christine Krikliwy

Richard Siken, co-founder of Spork Press and a University of Arizona alumnus, hides from his adoring fans during his days as a student worker at the Poetry Center.

Photo by Christine Krikliwy

New Stars of the Tucson Publishing Scene: CUE and CUE Editions
CUE
faster, faster by Stephanie Balzer

CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry 3:2 (Summer 2006).

Stephanie Balzer. faster, faster. Tucson: Cue Editions, 2010.

CUE began in 2004 as a journal of prose poetry founded by University of Arizona MFA alumni Mark Horotsky and Morgan Lucas Schuldt (1978-2012).  Schuldt, who was the editor-in-chief, also created CUE Editions, a small press which published limited-edition, handmade print chapbooks.

New Stars of the Tucson Publishing Scene: New Michigan Press
Whitework by Kate Bernheimer
Creation Myths by Mathias Svalina

Kate Bernheimer. “Whitework.” Tucson: New Michigan Press, 2010.

Mathias Svalina. Creation Myths. Grand Rapids, MI: New Michigan Press, 2007.

New Michigan Press is edited by University of Arizona Creative Writing faculty member Ander Monson, who founded the press in 1999. New Michigan publishes a print chapbook series and the wildly popular online journal DIAGRAM, along with broadsides from reading series at the University of Alabama and the University of Arizona.

Arizona Board of Regents