Articles & Interviews

Interview: Participating Witness

"2020 Exhibition Opening: Participating Witness: The Poetics of Granary Books with Steve Clay and Mary Catherine Kinniburgh."

A conversation between Granary Books publisher Steve Clay and archivist Mary Catherine Kinniburgh that celebrates the opening of Participating Witness: The Poetics Of Granary Books, an exhibition at Poets House featuring selections from the past 20 years of Granary Books publications. Introduction by Poets House Program Director Paolo Javier.

Recorded at Poets House on Mar. 10, 2020.

Listen here.

Participating Witness: The Poetics of Granary Books

By Johanna Drucker, originally published in The Codex Papers: Volume One. Berkeley: Codex Foundation, 2018. The essay was reprinted by Tibetan Kite Society/Granary Books on the occasion of an exhibition by the same name at Poets House in Spring 2020.


Granary Books occupies a singular place in the American publishing landscape. Through its commitment to work at the intersection of current literature, art, and book production, Granary exists at the living edge of culture, producing books that participate in contemporary aesthetics as well as offer evidence of it. Few editors have positioned themselves so fully within the independent mainstream, or had the...

Interview: Publishing Talks

"David Wilk Interviews Steve Clay of Granary Books." WritersCast, as part of the series "Publishing Talks." July 26, 2017.

“Publishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology about the future of publishing, books, and culture. As we continue to experience disruption and change in all media businesses, I’ve been talking with some of the people involved in our industry about how publishing might evolve as our culture is affected by technology and the larger context of civilization and economics. 

I’ve now expanded the series to include conversations that go beyond the...

Interview: The Paris Review

William Corbett. "The Beginning of Granary Books: An Interview with Steve Clay." The Paris Review. Feb. 1, 2016. 

Last September, Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library opened “The Book Undone: Thirty Years of Granary Books,” an exhibition celebrating Columbia’s purchase of the Granary Books archive. “It’s difficult to fully describe the range and impact of Steve Clay’s Granary Books,” wrote Mark Dimunation, chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. “Beginning in 1985 he has concocted a mix of poets, artists, printers and craftspeople whose work defines an era and fundamentally shapes our understanding...

A Compendium of Comments

The following compendium of comments on Granary Books was gathered by exhibit curators Sarah Arkebauer and Karla Nielsen on the occasion of "The Book Undone: Thirty Years of Granary Books," an exhibition at Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

A Compendium of Comments

Charles Bernstein: At Granary, books are not neutral containers but are invested with a life of their own, conceived as objects first and foremost, entering the world not as the discardable shell of some other story but piping their own tunes on their own instruments. Nothing is taken for granted — the binder is as much a star...

From the Vaults of Granary: A Preface; A Start

By Elliot David, originally published on Art Slut. Feb. 2007.

We’ve reached a privileged historical moment when keeping an archive can be a work of art.

—Ulises Carrion

Granary Books publisher Steve Clay knows everything: Ask him. Anything. Ask him anything about the history of the small press: its manufacturers, distributors, spine binders, font designers and content providers. Ask him about poetics on film, semiotics collectives, brushless painters, the conductors of orchestral space concepts. Ask him about your grandmother’s diary entries re: your grandfather’s erectile dysfunction. Ask him, and he’ll tell you what you want to know, speak it softy and...

When the Book Blinks Back: Granary at a Glance

By Kyle Schlesinger, originally published in Artists' Book Yearbook 2006–2007, edited by Sarah Bodman.

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures...

Interview: Cross Cultural Poetics Radio Show

Hosted on Penn Sound, "Cross Cultural Poetics" is produced at the stations of KAOS 89.3FM, in Olympia, Washington. Leonard Schwartz is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including A Message Back And Other Furors (Chax), The Library Of Seven Readings (Ugly Duckling Presse), The Tower Of Diverse Shores (Talisman House), Words Before The Articulate (Talisman House), Language As Responsibility (Tinfish Editions), At Element (Talisman House) and IF. (Talisman House). His book The New Babel: Towards a Poetics of the Mid-East Crises (University of Arkansas Press) is inclusive of poetry, essay and transcribed interviews from this program. 

Keys to the City


Steve Clay's Granary Books: A Tribute

By Jerome Rothenberg, originally published in catalog essay for Too Much Bliss: Twenty Years of Granary Books. Smith College Museum of Art, Nov. 12, 2005–Feb. 19, 2006.

The history of poetry in our time has also been a history of those who provide conduits & vehicles, containers & wrappers, for the physical presentation of poetry: publishers, typographers, printers, designers, or those artists-as-such who are often the collaborators in making poetry a visible, even a visual, art. For this the book has remained the principal vehicle – the material book, like the material poem, still active in the age of virtuality. In the...

Interview: New Paradigms from the Outset

With Kyle Schlesinger at the Penn Club, London, England. Oct. 24, 2004. A verision of this interview was published in Ampersand: The Quartlery Journal of the Pacific Center for the Book Arts, vol. 24, no. 2 (Winter 2007), 5–7.


KS I’m interested in the intersection of ontology and the book — particularly the question of how, where, and in what sense it exists. I feel that most books, particularly the handmade, exude a residual element of collaboration long after the printer and papermaker, typecaster and binder, calligrapher and lithographer, etc. have done their work. At Granary, you’ve clearly taken collaboration to...

Critical Assemblage–Granary Books and the Poetics of Publishing

By Claire MacDonald, originally published in Performance Research, vol. 8, no. 2 (2003), 135–137.

When Will the Book Be Done? Granary's Books1
Edited by Steven Clay, preface by Charles Bernstein
New York: Granary Books, 2001

The Book of the Book: Some Works and
Projections about the Book and Writing
Edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Steven Clay
New York: Granary Books, 2000

A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing 1960-19803
A Sourcebook of Information by Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips
New York: The New York Public Library and Granary Books, 1998

Figuring the Word: Essays on Books...

Claymation, a Reader's Guide

By Charles Bernstein, originally printed in the preface for When will the book be done? Granary's books. Granary Books, 2001. 

For something more than ten years—let's call it a baker's decade—Granary Books has produced about 100 books. Throughout the 1990s, Granary made itself home base for a group of bookmakers, poets and visual artists, brought together to make pages while the sun shines—and by moonlight (and halogen light, too).

At Granary, books are not neutral containers but are invested with a life of their own, conceived as objects first and foremost, entering the world not as the discardable shell of some...

When will the book be done?

By Steve Clay, originally printed as introduction for When will the book be done? Granary's books. Granary Books, 2001.


The first item that I identify as a Granary Books1 publication was actually published by Origin Books2 in 1986—Wee Lorine Niedecker by Jonathan Williams. It embodies several elements that remain important to me now, some fifteen years later, among which is an acute awareness of the "book" as a physical object. I write this in quotes because the work in question is not a book per se but presents a short poem by Mr. Williams, printed on a small piece of card...

Interview: A Double Change Interview

"Double Change" is an evolutionary project which militates in favor of American and French poetry called experimental. When it was created in 2000, the Double Change association instituted a series of bilingual readings in Paris. Each month, a reading brings together two poets who read their texts, each in their own language. An opportunity for crossovers, confrontation and translation, these transatlantic exchanges have been filmed since 2004 to constitute an archive. A bilingual online journal is devoted to translation as an object and a means of reflection. Some operations are carried out in partnership with poetry centers, universities, publishers and Tamaas ( (from the Double...

Three Books About Books

By Jeffrey Beam. Originally published as "Three Books about Books." Oyster Boy Review 14 (Winter 2001): 52.

Jerome Rothenberg's always original and thought-provoking work within language and poetics has established ethnopoetics as a discipline encouraging expanded definitions of cultural artifacts. In these two books, he and his co-editors explore the meaning of "the book," envisioning a primal book written "out there" from which all manifestations of language spring. Proposing a book as a metaphor for imagining opens its interpretation to something more than a vessel for words; it becomes a communal theater of experience and instrument for action, facilitating invention and belief, communication...

Why a Book is Not a Painting

Originally published as Bee, Susan. "Why a Book is Not a Painting." The Journal of Artists’ Books, (Spring 1995): 14-15. Viewable online. 

For thousands of years... we have told ourselves tales and stories, and these were always analogies and metaphors, parables, and allegories, they were elusive and equivocal: they hinted and alluded, they shad-owed forth in a glass darkly. - Doris Lessing

I made my first artist's book in 1978. Photogram was self-published and consisted of 6 full-page black and white offset reproductions of abstract photograms. From that humble beginning to 1995, when Granary Books published Talespin, I have been involved in a number of...

Back to Basics: 3 Primers from Granary Books

Originally published as Elliot, Joe. “BACK TO BASICS: 3 Primers from Granary Books.” The Journal of Artists’ Books, (Spring 1995): 16-19. Viewable online.

Talespin by Susan Bee
Abstract Refuse by Ed Epping
A Passage by Buzz Spector

primer 1. An elementary textbook. 2. A book that covers the basics of any subject.
primer 2. A cap or tube containing a small amount of
explosive used to detonate the main explosive charge
of a firearm or mine. 2. An undercoat of paint or size
applied to prepare a surface, as for a painting.

Ed Epping's Abstract Refuse is subtitled "A Heteronymic Primer." Like any good primer, Epping's covers its subject; it collects examples, postulates rules, and...

List of Granary Contributors A–E

David Abel

David Abel is a poet, editor, bookseller, raga singer, and poker player who moved to Portland in 1997. He is the author of a poetry chapbook, Cut (Situations, NYC), and the long collage text "Conduction" in the exhibition catalogue Conduit, devoted to the work of artist Anna Hepler (Modular Unit Design, Seoul, Korea), as well as the artists' books Rose and Selected Durations (collaborations with Katherine Kuehn, published at the Salient Seedling Press).

Marina Adams

Marina Adams is a painter who splits her time between New York City and Parma, Italy.  She received her MFA in painting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, New...

List of Granary Contributors F–J

Larry Fagin 

Larry Fagin grew up in New York, Hollywood, and Europe. He began associating with poets and writers in 1957, meeting David Meltzer in Los Angeles, and Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso two years later in Paris. In 1962 he became part of the circle of poets around Jack Spicer in San Francisco, and befriended Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Robert Duncan. At the end of 1965 he traveled to London where he lived for two years and met his first wife, Joan Inglis. They returned to New York and settled in San Francisco for most of 1968. Clark Coolidge became a close friend. Returning to...

List of Granary Contributors K–R

Franz Kamin

Franz Kamin (1941–2010), musician, composer, and poet, was self-taught as a composer and pianist before studying at the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University. In 1966, he co-founded FIASCO, an experimental music arts organization, with James Brody. Influenced by studies in topology, Kamin produced numerous compositions during FIASCO's five-year existence, including a final work, Concert of Doors (1972). 

In 1972 Kamin left Indiana for New York City, engaging with local artists and producing numerous performance pieces, "theatric poems," video and multimedia works, and ensemble pieces for unconventional instruments. Until the mid-'80s, his activity centered in New York and the Hudson...

List of Granary Contributors S–Z

Edward Sanders 

Edward Sanders (b. 1939), is a poet, historian and musician. He has published more than 20 books, including Tales of Beatnik Glory (4 volumes published in a single edition); 1968: A History in VerseThe Poetry and Life of Allen GinsbergThe Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion; and Chekhov, a biography in verse of Anton Chekhov. His selected poems, Let’s Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War: New and Selected Poems (1986–2009), was published by Coffee House Press. Da Capo Press published his memoir of the 1960s, Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs...