The Poet’s Press was founded in New York City in 1971, as part of the last great Bohemia of Greenwich Village, with the mission of publishing neglected or lesser-known poets. In those days a number of deserving poets, despite having many magazine publications, had no book publications. Brett Rutherford sought to publish affordable chapbooks and books for poets, and The Poet’s Press quickly emerged as an important part of the New York poetry scene. Working out of a loft in the "cast-iron" district of Chelsea, The Poet’s Press printed and bound its own books with a small offset press and a variety of binding equipment. The press hosted readings at the loft, and Rutherford and the circle of poets he published were a vital part of the West Village poetry scene. Distinct from the more avant-garde East Side poets, the poets chosen by the press, although almost all wrote in free verse, were more traditional in centering on coherent narrative and connections to historical content or classic literature. With the publication of the 1975 anthology May Eve: A Festival of Supernatural Poetry, the press started a second imprint, Grim Reaper Books, later used for a number of Gothic and supernatural titles. The writings of Brett Rutherford, Barbara A. Holland, Shirley Powell, and some other contemporaries indeed constituted an informal "New York Gothic" movement.
In the 1980s and 1990s, The Poet’s Press, located variously in New York, New Jersey, and Providence, RI, continued to produce poetry books in what might be called "medieval high tech," combining the emerging desktop publishing technology with hand-bound books printed on acid-free paper. The books sometimes had custom-designed typefaces and employed a combination of gluing and stitching as the press sought new ways to produce handsome books that were still affordable. It would have been easy to go the route of the letterpress fine presses, but the productions of those high-end hobbyist printers were costly, and not the kinds of books that a poet could carry around to readings or bookstores.
Short-run book printing came to the rescue in the 1990s, and then the new technology of print-on-demand, which made it possible to publish and distribute books world-wide without the expense of warehousing many cartons of unsold books. The press continued in this vein in paperback, hardcover, and PDF ebooks, focusing on design and typography to make books that embodied many of the classic aspects of book design.
As it became more and more apparent that poets could easily produce their own chapbooks, Rutherford turned the press to different projects, such as the landmark five-volume historical series on Gothic and supernatural poetry, (two annotated volumes of Tales of Wonder, followed by three volumes of Tales of Terror.) The collected writings of departed poets from the Greenwich Village scene also came to pass: three volumes of the writings of Emilie Glen, and nine volumes of the poetry of Barbara A. Holland, known as "the Sibyl of Greenwich Village." Anthologies of writers from Rhode Island, and others from the Palisades Poetry movement of New Jersey, brought many new authors under the press’s umbrella. A collaboration with David Messineo and Sensations Magazine yielded the two-volume collected poems of Irish-American poet Moira Bailis. New poets adopted by the press often stayed for multiple titles, such as Annette Hayn, Joel Allegretti and Jacqueline DeWeever.
In the last several years, after relocating to Pittsburgh, press founder Rutherford has turned his attention to a wider swath of world literature, producing, by his own and others’ hands, studies, translations and adaptations involving Ovid, the Chinese Emperor Li Yu, Greek poets Callimachus and Meleager, Rilke, Phillis Wheatley, World War I literature, and Heine’s satirical poems. Forays into essays, fiction, and memoir have included volumes of Continental horror stories, a banned anti-war novel from World War I, the literary essays of Sarah Helen Whitman, a collection of Silver Age Russian fiction, and Boria Sax’s memoir of atomic espionage. Some of these books appear under the press’s third imprint, Yogh and Thorn Books.
The press has passed its 50th anniversary, having published poems and writings by more than 450 authors.
The reading list from our archives includes full text and/or excerpts from some books which are still currently available in print. Other books which are out of print are presented here to help promulgate the work of these important poets. You may read these texts for your enjoyment, or even save the HTML or Acrobat files and print out poems. But please respect the copyrights of the authors and do not republish, perform or otherwise use the non-public-domain texts without our knowledge.
A large part of our energies are also devoted to preserving and promulgating no-longer-living Poet's Press authors, most notably Emilie Glen, Barbara A. Holland, Shirley Powell, Jack Veasey, and Annette Hayn. Many back-list Poet's Press titles can be read and downloaded free from The Internet Archive; titles still in print are so listed on our catalog pages.
The press is now located at 2209 Murray Avenue #3/ Pittsburgh, PA 15217-2338. Email contact is email@example.com
For ink-on-paper books, we use Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing for printing and fulfillment. Like many other small presses, we use on-demand services as a commercial printer and distribution operation, retaining our own identity and catalog. Many of our titles have been available in UK and Europe since 2012.
Most current Poet's Press editions are available for purchase as PDF ebooks, all priced under $5. The catalog web-page has "Buy Now" buttons for instant ordering and download, payable via credit card or PayPal. Starting in 2019, some titles will be published as "ebook only." We do not currently publish books in epub format, preferring the Adobe PDF format, which preserves the typography, layout, color and design of our printed books. An epub format for our books will be developed in 2023.
We have also added interesting and important public domain texts and PDFs to the website, such as the pages on Greek and Latin Poetry. We are searching for the best available public domain texts for major poets, and will add more as we find them.
The 50th Anniversary Anthology. The Poet's Press celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. This 406-page oversize anthology contains the best and representative selections spanning the whole history of the press -- from long-out-of-print chapbooks up to the present day. Brett Rutherford has chosen work from 146 poets and writers, including 363 poems, two play excerpts, and five prose works. Works are selected not only from single-author chapbooks and books, but also from the numerous anthologies published by the press.
This volume is full of surprises. Some of the best poems of Poet's Press principal authors like Barbara A. Holland and Emilie Glen are collected here along with works from poets as diverse as Hugo, Longfellow, Goethe, Scott, and Shelley. The Greenwich Village poets of the last Bohemia of the 1960s and 1970s are joined by their successors across the Hudson from the "Poets of the Palisades" poetry community. What all the poems share is that they are a delight to read.
This book also includes a year-by-year chronology of the publications of the press, an annotated bibliography of authors and titles, and a list of all poets published in books from The Poet's Press and its imprints.
The Poet's Press. This is the 300th publication of The Poet’s Press. Published November 2022. Paperback, 406 pages, 8-1/2 x 11 inches. ISBN 9798364480330. $19.95. PDF ebook to be issued at a later date.
Guidelines for Submissions
The Poet's Press and Yogh & Thorn books are currently not accepting poetry manuscript submissions from individual poets. Poets are just as well-off publishing their own chapbooks. When we do publish smaller single-author books, these are typically by invitation.
We welcome collaborations and joint-publishing projects with other small presses, and with poets, editors and scholars who have press-ready manuscripts in our areas of interest, including anthologies and annotated editions of poetry.