Black Rock Press – University of Nevada, Reno

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Black Rock Press was founded by Kenneth Carpenter in 1965. It is named after a landmark in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada that guided emigrants on the Applegate Trail.

The Press is dedicated to the practice and teaching of the arts and crafts associated with the creation of finely printed books. It has become a living museum of traditional printing technology, housing cabinets filled with metal type, and a number of historically significant printing presses. Its centerpiece, a gilded 1837 super-royal Columbian iron handpress, is one of the finest examples of a nineteenth-century iron handpress to be found anywhere in the country.

Through instructional programs the Press introduces students to techniques involved with the creation of books. They are encouraged to develop an appreciation of the book as a special kind of object whose form can reveal its content. In the course Book Arts, students learn typographic design and letterpress printing, as well as the historical aspects of printing and book production. Students also learn other aspects of bookmaking including imagemaking techniques, bookbinding, papermaking, and paper decoration. Beyond its own offerings, the Black Rock Press works closely with university classes in art, history, English, and journalism, providing orientations, tours and lectures on various aspects of the book arts. The goal of the Press is to make its resources available as a center for the book arts.

Through the Press’s program of publishing books and broadsides, it seeks to create literary and artistic works of high merit in well-designed and crafted limited and commercially printed editions. Most of the work is done at the Press itself, using both traditional and contemporary book production methods. The Press received wide acclaim for their first book, Springing of the Blade, poems by William Everson. Further examples of outstanding design and production of Finding the Space, poems by the renowned American poet, Gary Snyder. This has been followed an award winning limited edition, Cartwheels, by Steven Nightingale. Along with limited edition books, the Press also produces work of contemporary writing for its Rainshadow Editions series, by both emerging and established writers. Blood Sister I am to These Fields, by Linda Hussa, won three major awards as poetry book of the year. The Press also produces letterpress broadsides which present work by noted American writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Gretel Ehrlich, Paul Zarzyski, and former U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Robert Pinsky.

The Black Rock Press seeks to promote an awareness of the significance of books and their related arts to the history and future of culture. In an era of rapid changes in information technology, the Black Rock Press seeks to provide an historical perspective on the importance of book arts and the printed word to the unfolding process of human knowledge and the creative process.

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