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 interest in paying attention to what is going on in literary (and artistic) activity, as Granary’s Steve Clay. He has consistently brought new, sometimes edgy, often experimental, works before the public eye in editions and formats designed to demonstrate the rich possibilities of connections between production and conception. Other fine presses can compete with Granary for high-end lavish editions, and many small presses, short and longer lived, contribute actively to independent literary publication, but none combine these elements with a commitment to “the book” as both a subject and a means of expression. These three strains — literary work, contemporary art, and critical engagement with “the book” — weave throughout Granary’s oeuvre, and have for the thirty-five years of its existence.
The over-arching rubric under which Granary’s activities can be grouped is the idea of participating witness — the vital combination of bringing forward and also generating works that define a particular place within the larger field of independent publishing. The specific features of the Granary zone can be seen in the vocabulary and title phrases on Granary’s list: “a secret location,” “book of the book,” “eyewitness,” “checklist,” “poems,” “the word made,” “of the literature,” “visual poetics,” “cutting edge,” and “at the intersection.” Such phrases create a synthetic image of publishing as an intersectional undertaking, informed by a multiplicity of concerns and interests. To reiterate, these weave together the strains of “book,” “art,” and “literature” that define Granary’s contribution to the contemporary scene.
Steve Clay’s particular “location” within that scene is quite legible from the list of writers, artists, and collaborations he has produced. Clay began publishing in the mid-1980s, in a period when literary poetics was largely a non-academic activity, forged through personal networks and deliberately cultivated connections. A figure like Jonathan Williams (and his Jargon Society), seminal in Clay’s formation, provided a model of this independent, self-determined, path. Clay found his way into poetry through contact with books, then people, in bookstores and venues in the very heartland of the United States, the Midwestern world of small towns and independent bookstores. That era is largely vanished, but an aesthetic defined by reading, first one author and then another, because poetry spoke to you in a way nothing else did, does not vanish. The core conviction that literary work creates a space that nothing else can occupy took hold of Clay and has deepened over time.
The evidence of his early interests shows in the Granary list, with its conspicuous engagement with writers known as the New York School poets. Coming of age in the 1960s, his generation was fully aware of the triumphalism of American abstract art, the energy around the Abstract Expressionists, and the sense that New York had become the crucible for a radical transformation of aesthetics that broke from European modernism to become fiercely individualistic, existential, and inventive. That mythology dominated the mainstream, and many New York poets; John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, and Barbara Guest were affiliated with painters and wrote art criticism. Guest also articulated a procedural, processual, approach to writing that has much in common with the working methods of Jackson Pollock and others (her conviction that the poem becomes what it is through the act of its own making). These poets and painters were not the first important figures in American letters, but they were generationally significant, the ones who were breaking new ground at a time when Clay was becoming immersed in cutting-edge poetics. While “hipster,” “beat,” and other terms characterized one flank of post-World War II poetic movements, the sophisticated cosmopolitanism of the New York poets introduced a very different, ironic, often anti-formal tone. Though Granary’s publishing range exceeds any single poetic affiliation, Clay’s interest in the work and history of major figures from the New York scene is evident. In addition to the figures mentioned above, he has published multiple titles by or about Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Anne Waldman, and others, such as Charles Bernstein more loosely associated with that scene. Granary cannot be characterized simply as a publisher of New York School work — that would be inaccurate and insufficient — but to recognize that Clay’s serious engagement with and valuing of their poetic enterprise was crucial to the formation of Granary and to its ongoing activity.
Clay’s work contributes in the active sense, not just by putting work into print, but by finding lost works, or evidence of moments in the historical past, that merit being brought into the light of day, recovered from obscurity of their “secret locations” and made visible. Not surprisingly (but unusual for a non-academic independent publisher) Clay has published many volumes that bring bits of hidden history to light, formalize a bibliography or checklist of an author, or document a moment or chapter otherwise lost or unknown. One striking example of this kind of contribution is A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960¬–1980: A Sourcebook of Information, published in 1998 to accompany the exhibit of the same name mounted collaboratively by Clay and Rodney Phillips at The New York Public Library. Elaborately researched and curated, the exhibit and publication documented the work of many independent small presses and pulled them into a framework that provided a conceptual argument for the period. This included attention to the impact of the available means of production — mimeo in particular — in a period before Xerox and high-end offset printing were readily available or accessible. Presented as “adventures in writing,” the project made its literary commitments clear, but also, situated the center of this activity in the New York downtown venue that was emerging as a center of artistic innovation, what would, in an earlier era, have been characterized as “bohemian” life. Clay identified his publication as a “sourcebook,” bringing its reference value to the fore, and it provides a major resource for critical research into literary publishing of the period.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Other important works on Granary’s list serve as sources or references, such as the 1990 collaboration, Execution: The Book, an unusually poetic catalogue of the first United States exhibit of the work of British book artist and printer Ken Campbell. Campbell’s letterpress productions are painterly, elaborately executed, and often highly conceptual in their propositions. His unique aesthetic has made him one of the foremost individual practitioners of “book arts” in the deepest sense — though the phrase feels limiting in ways that sound too close to craft to provide an adequate description of his work. This exhibition “checklist” was a work in its own right, carefully designed and produced, like all of Granary’s publications. Another Granary project that bridges the standard reference and innovative work is Ted Berrigan: An Annotated Checklist (1998), produced with the collaborative efforts of Lewis Warsh, George Schneeman, and Aaron Fischer. Berrigan had died in 1983, but still exerted powerful influence on those who had been his peers and on the generation following. A record of 1960s and 1970s poetic expression, the Checklist made use of Schneeman’s images, a host of citations and anecdotes, and personal recollections by friends and fellow-poets, to create a profile of a poet whose individual sensibility had left a lasting impression. This hybridization also characterized the anthology of Jackson Mac Low’s Doings: Performance Pieces 1955–2002 (2005) as well as John Zorn’s edited volume, Arcana: Musicians on Music (2000). These publications are characterized on Granary’s website as “trade” books, though some included limited, specially bound or produced, copies among their editions. Yet every one of these works is individualized, each made to serve the project of an informed and sometimes idiosyncratic point of view, with artistic voice and perspective foregrounded by the production.
Among the many substantial publications in the vein of independent press works, one particularly ambitious project exemplifies the qualities of the rich offerings in the fuller list. Angel Hair Sleeps with a Boy in My Head: The Angel Hair Anthology (2001) was a labor of considerable appreciation, an homage almost to the efforts of a young Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, and their highly influential magazine of the same name. Angel Hair played a crucial role in publishing a “new” American poetry for a little more than a decade — edgy, irreverent, alive in its language and direct use of vernacular expression and poetic craft. The magazine, published between 1966 and 1978, exhibited some of the same cross-overs between visual and literary art that are so important to Granary’s identity. Work by Vito Acconci, the conceptual performance artist, appeared in its pages, along with works by a who’s who of American writers of the period — Denise Levertov, Bill Berkson, Tom Clark, Robert Creeley, Lorenzo Thomas, Bernadette Mayer, Hannah Weiner, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett, and a host of others. Angel Hair also published books, broadsides, catalogues, and various ephemera as well as the magazine, and the anthology contains a checklist of these items illustrated with photographs of each. This attention to the bibliographical record of literary production is rare. The labor involved is not rewarded directly, and cannot be adequately compensated through book sales. It is an intellectual investment without return, except for the benefits to the larger community of poets, scholars, critics, and researchers whose own passion will be served by these efforts.
Other catalogue-type productions, including Painter Among Poets: The Collaborative Art of George Schneeman (2004), edited by poet Ron Padgett, Constance Lewallen’s Joe Brainard: A Retrospective (2001), Nancy Kuhl’s The Book Remembers Everything, The Work of Erica Van Horn (2010) (co-published with Coracle), and the catalogue for the exhibition Poetry Plastique, edited by Charles Bernstein and Jay Sanders (2001), were all produced to serve a specific event or occasion, or to formalize the presentation of a corpus of work by an individual or from a period or publisher. Certain names cycle through, appearing multiple times, as Clay’s commitment to his own networks of affiliation and aligned sensibility show through. Thus, we see Joe Brainard, Ted Berrigan, Charles Bernstein, Susan Bee, Jen Bervin, Simon Cutts, Jerome Rothenberg, Lyn Hejinian, and John Ashbery make multiple appearances, among other figures whose work has clearly engaged Clay’s own spirit over the years. But individual poets of significance also appear here: Alice Notley, Susan Howe, Kathleen Fraser, Anne Tardos, Ed Friedman, or the Canadian concrete poet, bill bissett. Each of these works participates in the life of our times, in the ongoing production of literary and aesthetic work to create a space within the culture that speaks with independent voices and sensibilities. In these pages and volumes, we are offered the possibilities of thinking and expression that are not standard, that are reflective and thoughtful works of individual experience and perception given form and expression. They witness the world around us, and offer insight into our relation to it, providing ways of thinking about assumptions formed in habits of language and other expressions.
Clay could have made an impact simply as a publisher of contemporary literature, but at the heart of Granary’s publishing identity are the carefully produced and conceived individual works that embody a more complex aesthetic vision. These publications don’t fit neatly within the categories of livre d’artiste or artist’s books, but borrow features of each — elaborate design and craft, attention to the workings of a book as a bound sequence of intertextual play, and thoughtful orchestration of image, words, and materials. Many involve a combination of printing and handwork, and each is custom tailored to optimize the instantiation of the piece. Among the earliest of these books are Tennessee Rice Dixon’s Scrutiny in the Great Round (1992), Toni Dove’s Mesmer: Secrets of the Human Frame (1993), and Notes on the Body by Shelagh Keeley (1991). Each has a lavishness to its distinct presentation: the techno-scientism of Dove’s work, the collage pastiche palimpsests in Dixon’s, and the hand-painted images in Keeley’s are so different from each other that only the high quality of production unites them. Keeley’s work is lyric, personal, filled with sensuous physicality that expresses embodied touch through the use of multiple media, like wax, gouache, and pigments that are particularly sensitive to nuance. The “body” and embodiment were terms circulating in the early 1990s art world, in part as a recovery of what felt lost in the 1980s post-modern engagement with mass culture and media images. Dove’s work in Mesmer might feel closer to some of the pastiche appropriation that had dominated the decade before, but her attention was trained on historical concepts of the self, subject, and soul at the intersection of 19th-century technologies and discourses. Dove channels Freud and Mesmer, early cinema, and the study of electricity and psychoanalysis, and the work’s metallic meshes and shimmering surfaces produce an effect of nocturnal hallucination, a not-quite-ever stable imagery in which the tropes of hypnotic illusion and selfhood intertwine. Dixon’s work is highly crafted, carefully assembled, with its own feel of nighttime imaginations and theatrical play. Though not explicitly concerned with any particular historical phenomenon or moment, Dixon’s imagery invokes associations across art historical and cultural time by virtue of the pasted bits and pieces culled from the inventory of art historical materials. The density of her pages, with their stained, layered complexity, reminds us of Max Ernst’s frottage and collage works, but in a contemporary mode. All three of these artists have an acutely self-conscious awareness of their own historical circumstances, of the traditions in which they work and the contemporaneity of how they position their imagery and sensibility, as women artists, within those traditions.
Charles Bernstein, Jerome Rothenberg, Norma Cole, John Cage, Larry Fagin, Alison Knowles, Ed Epping, Jane Brakhage, Leslie Scalapino, and others feature among the writers whose texts have been published in works that combine features of fine press (paper, binding, high level printing), livres d’artistes (atelier print production, established artists), and artist’s books (original works in the book format). These productions were generally issued in small editions — sometimes as few as under twenty copies, and in a few cases, as many as two hundred. But in general the edition sizes are small, and hand-work and finishing are sometimes present (Susan Bee hand-colored the images in Talespin (1995) and Little Orphan Anagram (1997)). These books have their genesis in dialogue between Clay and their authors or artists, and the work emerges in that conversation, driven by an originating impulse from one or the other, but guided by the expertise that has made Granary successful (choices about production costs, design, and implementation). Clay’s long commitment to particular printers and binders facilitates execution, but design tends to be more specific to each project. The books are well-made, but not tricky, and none fall into the errors of novelty thematics or semi-sculptural works — in part because no matter how fine the work or how high-end the outcome, these books are all meant to be read, not put on display as static objects.
Granary’s “business model” (the phrase would seem out of place, except that Granary has been a successful enterprise) emerged from experience, rather than being crafted in advance as a way to establish a publishing mode. The range of projects and productions has often meant that more deluxe works have to subsidize the trade books, and that book sales and work with archives and collections adds a necessary supplement to support publication. With a few exceptions, notably Emily McVarish, Jen Bervin, and myself, Clay guides the production, and thus these works are his vision in terms of their execution, even if they are collaborative in their conception. The McVarish exception is based on a track record of trust and communication about each book’s development, another example of Clay’s unique style as a publisher.
While the visual qualities of Granary books are as varied in style as the texts, a “glyphic” sensibility is evident in several of the highly graphic works among the Granary volumes. One of the first publications, Henrik Drescher’s Too Much Bliss (1992) is emblematic in this regard. The graphical vocabulary is inexhaustible and exhaustive at the same time, drawing on organic forms and references to creatures and anatomies implied and explicit. The pages register marks, signs, and cryptic decorations that all swarm suggestively in the primordial fluid or æther that forms the background of the pages. The ways in which the visual signs in Drescher’s work hover on the edge of legibility and yet are intricately, finely, made are symptomatic of an orientation to visuality that shows in Tim Ely’s “sacred geometries” and Barbara Fahrner’s exquisite calligraphic drawings. These are artists with refined skills and attitudes, versed in the associative sign language of almost recognizable shapes, lines that hint at form but stop short of explicit identification with any particular object. They are artists of density and imagination, who draw forth their images as if tapping into a graphic vitalism, and they appear in fertile abundance in Granary’s books.
A wide range of visual artists’ work appears in Granary’s publications. Susan Bee’s work is manically eclectic, borrowing clichés abundantly and mashing them together with genre images of children’s books, pulp novels, mass culture iconography, and the lush traditions of painterly color. George Schneeman’s drawings bring the same personal, sketchbook touch to his imagery as his collaborators do to poetic language, letting its informality provide a way for the reader and viewer to enter into the work. Trevor Winkfield’s formal geometries are vivid, bold, vibrant works of cosmopolitan modernism. The washed erotic bodies in Francesco Clemente’s depictions blur the lines between provocation and depiction. Each of these artists stand on their own and yet find their individual approach brought into heightened focus through the collaborative space of a book. Pressed into connection with a writer and their text, the artists find their imagery pushed into dialogue by the dynamics that occur in the bound structure of a codex. Across the gutter, within the frame of the page, across the sequence of the openings, the images and texts talk to each other in ways that mimic conversational shifts and changes.
Among these lavish collaborative works, one that has a particular poignancy is Some of These Daze (2005), the collaboration between poet Charles Bernstein and painter Mimi Gross. Its texts and images were produced in the immediate aftermath of the events of 9/11. Both artists live in New York, and feel the city as an extension of their bodies, psyches, and identities. Gross’s visual journalism is rich and personal, vibrating with angst and anxiety, and her lines form on the page with the same conviction as that of her collaborator, convinced that aesthetic work can register, have some role in the culture, as witness at the very least. Bernstein’s writings are distilled observations, notes taken in shock. The immediacy of these testimonies, and the fresh, unfiltered feel of the work, comes through even more than a decade after the events. Bernstein’s usual ironies and ludic play are subdued here, and the voice of reportage reminds us that part of the participatory power of poetic work is its direct engagement, permission to speak with and through the voice of immediacy.
Characterizing Clay’s editorial vision as eclectic would trivialize the deliberateness with which each work is chosen, the human relations with which each book is involved. Many Granary titles are collaborations with artists of considerable renown. In addition to those already mentioned, consider Kiki Smith, Alex Katz, Susan Rothenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Ian Tyson, or Cecilia Vicuña. Clay’s ability to connect with these figures, engage them in his productions, speaks to his credibility and stature.
Clay’s eye and ear are sharply tuned to pick out works that fulfill his own expectations that literature should matters by virtue of its aesthetic convictions, rather than through didactic messaging. Something substantive has to be said, be made, brought into view, and given a platform or framework through production in every instance. The range is still surprising. Among the other loyalties and orientations that give Granary’s list its distinctive profile are innovations associated with “new-age” thinking in a spiritual strain that sees beyond the material quality of existence into the realms of “bliss” and “light” or the “sacred geometry” that characterizes work by artists already mentioned, Ely and Drescher, but also, Terence McKenna and Jerome Rothenberg. The notion of the book as a “spiritual instrument” carries real conviction for Clay, and his commitment to “luminous volumes” speaks to the belief in the very potency of the word in the world.
BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
Clay has also chosen to champion a highly materialist engagement with the book as an aesthetic form and cultural practice. And no discussion of Granary’s publishing agenda would be complete without attention to the many titles that are “books about books” — and even about “bookness” as a material and theoretical concept. My book, The Century of Artists’ Books (1995) was the first of these full studies (though the catalogue of Campbell’s work, a 1990 collaboration with Walter Hamady, and the publication of Barbara Moore’s Some Things Else about Something Else, also 1990, are certainly harbingers). Century came about as a result of our mutual interest (mine, Steve’s, and Brad Freeman’s) in helping promote the field of artists’ books by creating stronger critical discussion. Initially we imagined an anthology of writings by various people who could cover different aspects of the field, but gradually, realized that creating a comprehensive vision required single authorship. Input from both Clay and Freeman was supplemented by advice from the late Tony Zwicker, a figure we all respected as a mentor and friend. Zwicker introduced us to works from a European context of which we were ignorant, and pushed our thinking about what was original, important, and worthy of critical attention. Though many of the ideas in Century were floating inchoate in the discussion of the field at the time, no systematic critical approach had been articulated before that publication. Other works that are important contributions to the critical engagement with artists’ books include Renée Riese and Judd Hubert’s The Cutting Edge of Reading (1999) and Betty Bright’s No Longer Innocent (2005). The Huberts’ work takes close reading practices from literary and visual arts and applies them to the images and texts of individual artist’s books, closely studying the relations among these elements. Bright’s project was focused on institutional contexts for the development of artists’ books, and the sites and scenes within which they were fostered. Stefan Klima’s Artists Books: A Critical Survey of the Literature (1998) tracked the bibliography of the field to that point, lending legitimacy to production through a demonstration of the rich array of exhibition catalogues and texts that had taken books seriously as works of art. The 1996 collaboration between Jerome Rothenberg and David Guss, The Book, Spiritual Instrument, laid some of the foundation for Clay’s later editorial collaboration with Rothenberg, A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book and Writing (2000). This comprehensive volume brought materials from anthropology, philosophy, literary criticism, art history, and poetic reflection together in a dramatic demonstration of their capacity to illuminate each other as well as to provide a faceted approach to the study of the book and writing.
Critical engagement is never abstract or theoretical for Clay, or for the authors and artists whose work he chooses to publish. A critical, engaged, reflective material sensibility is evident in every publication, no matter what its means and methods of production. Perhaps one of the most striking of these investigations of the expressive quality of the formal features of the codex is the work by artists Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano, done in collaboration with poet Gerrit Lansing, Turning Leaves of Mind (2003). Described in the Granary listings as “a conceptual essay,” the book is a photographic study of Spanish bookbindings from the late Renaissance (13th century) to the 18th. Though texts run through the book, it is the images that carry the work. These close-ups, studies of details, fragments, bits of wear, coloration, stamping, features of binding and textures of the fore-edge or the faded character of the leather or rich color of the paper are the real text here. They provide voluble and eloquent testimony to the material semantics of book structures and materials. We can “read” a hinge, decipher a clasp, understand and compare the iconography of gold patterns pressed into leather. Each detail provides another element of the rich text comprised of elements meant to focus our attention. We emerge from the immersive space of those colorful pages, bleeding off their edges, and into the physical world of our lives, and it is life that for a moment seems flat after the multiple dimensions of sensory experience provided by the “leaves” that we have been turning.
CONCLUSION: PARTICIPATING WITNESS
Attention to a recent book that brings the issues of simultaneously witnessing and participating back into view will serve to focus the conclusion here. A modest publication, Eyewitness: From Black Mountain to White Rabbit (2015), was an extended conversation between San Francisco writer Kevin Killian and the lesser-known figure, Carolyn Dunn. The book may seem an unlikely object to pick to summarize Clay’s publishing agenda, but its very modesty and authenticity offer a useful example of the ways Granary’s contributions participate in and offer witness to the history of poetics in America. Inconspicuous in size — 66 pages, and a standard-sized trade book, 6 x 9 inches, Eyewitness provides a bit of lost history, with focus on the recollections by Carolyn Dunn of a year around 1956¬–57, when Jack Spicer had left (fled?) the New York scene to take refuge in Boston, lick his wounds, and then set off for the next, significant and influential, phase of life and career in San Francisco. Dunn, who had been at Black Mountain, and thus steeped in the cutting edge of radical artistic work of the time, was in her early 20s when she and her young husband, Joe, met Spicer in that year. Dunn’s direct engagement with a crucial transitional moment in Spicer’s life also links several major centers of artistic activity — and their disparate agendas — in a crucially generative moment of American letters. Black Mountain, now justly mythic for the cast of characters present in its short existence (established in 1933, the school closed in 1957), was a loosely formal “school” where John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and many other figures now fully canonical in American art, met and inspired each other in a new wave of conceptually oriented interdisciplinary work. Dance, music, visual art, performance, and literature shared this formative space, and created forces that shaped the arts for decades. For Dunn, young, impressionable, bright, absorptive, and creative, the experience was galvanizing. By the time she encountered Spicer, she was fully immersed in the networks of social and artistic exchange that linked the many figures around Black Mountain and Boston with a broader set of distributed nodes of activity.
Why recover such a figure and her memories? What put Killian on the path to the interview that became the text? His own biography of Jack Spicer is considered a major contribution to the study of that poet and his influence. Spicer found his place in the Bay Area where his connections to Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser forged a unique approach to poetics that drew on Surrealist precepts in practices that were far from — and even opposed to — the heroics of the New York school. These differences are still felt, and the possibilities for poetics held out by Spicer’s sensibility were far from the ironic cosmopolitanism of his New York contemporaries. Killian’s willingness to pursue Dunn, engage with her recollections, and recover an account of a period in Spicer’s history that had been vague and undetailed might be of interest to a mere handful of people (the book was issued in 300 copies and is out of print), but for that audience, this is an invaluable piece of literary history. This dedication to poetics distinguishes Granary. Clay knows this small recollection matters, that it is unique, unlikely to find a publisher elsewhere, and that it makes an incontrovertible contribution. The knowledge that supports such an assessment is the result of a lifetime of knowing the figures, their work, their histories and connections, so that recognition of significance comes immediately, along with the decision to commit to such a project.
Comparisons could be made between Granary and other independent fine press publishers. The lines of distinction would be drawn between those that are closer to art presses, some more clearly literary, and others that aspire to mainstream and trade publishing from an independent perspective and still others dedicated to alternative or activist agendas. Sprinklings of all of these show up in Granary’s mix. Such comparisons would heighten the relief in which Granary’s work stands out. The history of Granary is a record of Steve Clay’s encounters with individuals he found intriguing, ideas he wanted to promote, and collaborations in which he was successful. By founding his publishing work on solid connections with people (curators, artists, collectors, writers, other publishers), he established a viable and credible profile. His reputation is based on good business practices as well as solid intellectual and aesthetic judgment. If someone in the next generation aspires to follow the pattern, they should attend to these aspects of his character as well as aspire to his artistic vision.
Generational breadth also registers in Clay’s agenda. The figures who were central to the scene a generation ago, many already established when Granary’s first publications began, have now shifted into canonical status. Taking chances on younger artists and writers like Gary Sullivan and Nada Gordon, whose courtship e-mails formed the basis of Swoon (2001), keeps Granary from ossifying around an eclipsed aesthetic sensibility. Across the thirty years, however, a poignant observation can be made. Many of the figures with whom Clay worked when they — and he — were young have now shifted their positions and status. Emily McVarish, Susan Bee, myself, and others have become, in part through Steve’s offices and efforts, figures known and established. So the cycles of generational change continue, with the horizon of what is next just coming into view, and of what has been passing out of it. What is done is what remains, and what has been finished stands, part of that chain of activities through which we come to recognize ourselves as cultural beings in a long lineage of closer and more distant connections across time. Steve Clay’s contribution to those activities now amounts to a substantial achievement, and the steady output of Granary — nearly two hundred publications in three decades — has established its place as a participating witness to the life of contemporary letters.