Black Sparrow Press Archive

Black Sparrow was one of the most important private presses on the west coast of the United States, enduring for 36 years and making a name for itself by publishing some of the most avant-garde writers of the period. Black Sparrow editions, published in limited runs, represent some of the most remarkable examples of fine press work from the later part of the twentieth century. Publisher John Martin sold his collection of D.H. Lawrence first editions in order to finance Black Sparrow Press, which regularly published Charles Bukowski’s poetry, along with works of other innovative writers, including John Ashbery, Diane Wakoski, Charles Reznikoff, and Kenneth Koch. The publisher deliberately built a print archive, documenting press publications. In 1969, University of Alberta Library purchased the first 94 files (covering the period from its founding in April 1966 to November 1970); however, in 1970 such purchases were discontinued due to the lack of funding. As a result, the balance of the Black Sparrow Archive is now located in numerous other North American institutions. Totalling over one thousand items, the Black Sparrow Press Archive (1966-1970) at Bruce Peel Special Collections includes manuscript drafts, typescripts, corrected proofs and galleys, letters, posters, original artwork, photographs, master reel-to-reel recordings, and various peripheral materials related to publications of the press. This collection is useful for researching the socio-economics of small press operations, the history of the book, and the work of associated writers and poets. Researchers can learn more about the Black Sparrow Press Archive and access a bibliographical list of records created in 2002 that has been archived here.

To learn about the work currently underway to revive the Black Sparrow Press, see "Press On: Black Sparrow is Back," Los Angeles Review of Books (19 Sept 2022) by Josh Sherman.

Collection Formats: 20th Century, Art Work, Correspondence, Manuscripts, Photographs -- click to see other collections with this format