Thursday, February 28, 2008

Unicorn Press

Unicorn Press, which existed from 1966 to the mid 1990s had a long and fascinating history. Founded by Teo Savory and Alan Brilliant in Santa Barbara, CA, with initial financial backing from Ken Maytag (grandson of the man who founded the company that makes Maytag appliances), the press began in conjunction with Maytag's Unicorn Book Shop. Its first publications were a poetry postcard and a poster advertising a reading at the shop by Gary Snyder. Soon thereafter, Savory and Brilliant took sole control of the press and began publishing via handset type printed on a letterpress, broadsides of poems by contemporary American poets and short volumes of translations of French and German poets. By the late 1980s, Unicorn had produced nearly 100 books, along with hundreds of ephemeral publications by poets such as M.S. Merwin, Langston Hughs, Robert Bly, Thomas Merton, Jerome Rothenberg, James Tate, Charles Simic, Ted Hughs, Margarat Atwood, Kenneth Rexroth, and Diane Wakowski, to name only a few. 
In the early 80s the press relocated to Greensboro, NC. In 1986 Unicorn published a collection of my prose poems and original block print illustrations. This book, entitled The Masked Ball, was handset and printed by Sarah Lindsey. In 1988 I spent six months in residence handsetting and printing a companion volume entitled Puppet Theatre. At the same time I completed a descriptive bibliography that covered all Unicorn posters, broadsides, post cards, folios and other ephemeral publications from 1966-1987. 

The photo above shows my own two Unicorn Press titles, along with the last poetry broadside published in the Unicorn Broadside Series. The poem is by Thomas Wiloch and the artwork is mine. I designed this broadside, handset the type and printed it, along with the three linoleum blocks, on a Vandercook SP 15 in Greensboro, the summer of 1987.

1 comment:

finicky said...

Just tripped over yr site Greg. Wondering if the Unicorn bibliography you compiled is available. Nick Drumbolis