Asa Benveniste

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Asa Benveniste (August 25, 1925–April 13, 1990)[1] was an American-born poet, typographer and publisher.[2]

Early years[edit]

Benveniste was born in New York and settled in England in the 1950s.


After World War II Benveniste, at this time known as Albert, lived in Paris and in 1948 co-founded the Zero Press with George Solomos (who was then known as Thermistocles Hoetis). Their first publication in spring 1949 was Zero Magazine.[3] One of the poets they published was Lionel Ziprin, whose recollections of Benveniste appeared in Jewish Quarterly: "'He was a Turkish Jew; he had a very good poetry magazine, called The Trigram. I knew him in college; he went into the army. Later, he stayed in Paris. ...He and a guy called Themistocles Hoetis, this guy George Salamos, published a magazine called Zero; George came to New York, and he said: Give us what you got. So I gave them “Math Glass”, and he published it and somehow T. S. Eliot got a part of it, and wrote me a nice little letter about it.’"[4]

Following the second issue of Zero, which featured work by Paul Bowles, James Baldwin and Matta, Benveniste moved to London, then later Cornwall and Kent where he wrote a full length radio play "Tangier for the Traveller" for the BBC Home Service.

Besides being a poet, he also worked as a printer, a typographer, and as a book designer. In London during 1965, he co-founded and managed the Trigram Press, which published work by George Barker, Tom Raworth, Jack Hirschman, J. H. Prynne, David Meltzer, B. S. Johnson, Jim Dine, Jeff Nuttall, Gavin Ewart, Ivor Cutler, Anselm Hollo, and Lee Harwood, among others.[5]

In the 1980s Benveniste and his partner Agnetha Falk moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where they operated a secondhand bookshop.[6] When he died in 1990, Benveniste was buried in the graveyard of Heptonstall church, with a gravestone that reads: "Foolish Enough to Have Been a Poet".[7]

The artist Pip (Penelope) Benveniste, Asa's first wife (they met in Paris in 1948) and also his partner in the Trigram Press, died on August 30, 2010. Pip is now recognised as an important post-war British modernist painter. One aspect of her work - designs for hand woven rugs - was launched by her youngest son, Mark Vaughan, with her blessing, in 2012 (see[8]


  1. ^ Asa Benveniste page, isfdb.
  2. ^ "At the Grave of Asa Benveniste" by Roy Fisher - Poetry Archive
  3. ^ Zero: A Review of Literature and Art.
  4. ^ David Katz, "‘Angels are just one more species’ - David Katz meets Lionel Ziprin, mystic, maven and maverick of New York’s Lower East Side", Jewish Quarterly, Number 204, Winter 2006/2007.
  5. ^ Trigram Press Archive
  6. ^ Iain Sinclair, London: City of Disappearances, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2006.
  7. ^ Gabriel Gudding blog, October 10, 2006.
  8. ^ Michael McNay, "Pip Benveniste obituary", The Guardian, September 16, 2010.

External links[edit]