Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Gil Ott founded Singing Horse Press in 1976 to publish the kinds of innovative writing all too often overlooked by mainstream trade and academic presses. In his tenure as director of the press, Ott produced a wide-ranging list of titles by a diverse group of authors, including Charles Bernstein, Harryette Mullen, Norman Fischer, and Rosmarie Waldrop, among others. Singing Horse Press publishes four books per year, one or two of which are unsolicited; moreover, these books comprise of a diverse range of experimental poetry and prose.
The journal Paper Air, which Singing Horse Press published from 1976 through 1990, was the recipient of an Editors' Fellowship from the Council of Literary Magazines and presses in 1985. Paper Air's history spans two important schools of poetics during Ott's reign, with a strong base in poets associated with later objectivism, and providing a forum for those who subsequently founded the language school in the late 70s and 80s. Special issues of Paper Air brought the first thorough critical attention to the work of John Taggart (1979) and Jackson Mac Low (1980), and one entire issue was devoted to the groundbreaking essay-in-verse "Artifice of Absorption", by Charles Bernstein (1987). Three issues in the mid-80s focused on contemporary poets in France, Japan, and England.
Ott was not satisfied with the limits of Paper Air. You can do more for the poet with books, he argued. "Magazines have a very short shelf life, usually about three months. Unfortunately that's true for all magazines . . . it's the same situation with poetry magazines, although you don't find them in dentist's waiting rooms. I have boxes of them in my basement, which I've been trying to pawn off for years. Poetry magazines which, to me, have value. But to librarians, even rare book librarians, they have no value. Publishing a magazine is ultimately futile, if you're looking for some kind of permanence for the poet. You have to do books. Even smaller books have greater impact than magazines" (Ott).
Paper Air magazine comprises a significant period in the history of Singing Horse Press, however, it was by no means the only publication put out by the Press. Published copies of Singing Horse Press texts include, Leslie Scalapino and Kevin Killian's Stone Marmalade, Ammiel Alcalay's The Cario Notebooks, Harryette Mullen's Muse & Drudge and S*PeRM**K*T, Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Draft X: Letters, Julia Blumenreich's Meeting Tessie, and Karen Kelley's Her Angel, and many others. Peer Journals comprise an excellent collection of the small, literary magazines and books representative of this period.
In 2004, Ott turned the press over to Paul Naylor.
The collection is comprised of correspondence and production materials related to its journal Paper Air. The correspondence includes solicitations for poetry from Gil Ott and the responses he received. The poets' works were either published as books by Singing Horse Press or in Paper Air.
Purchase from Gil Ott, 2001
For a complete listing of correspondents, do the following title search in Franklin: Singing Horse Press Records
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Patricia Hopkins
- Finding Aid Date
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