Granary Books is an independent small press, directed by Steve Clay, who sees its mission as one "to produce, promote, document, and theorize new works exploring the intersection of word, image, and page." Located in New York City, its trade books are distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers and Small Press Distribution.
The poet and translator Jerome Rothenberg wrote of Granary Books: "In the true history of American poetry...Granary Books, as a press & resource, is exemplary of how poets & related artists in the post-World War Two era were able to establish shadow institutions that operated, nearly successfully, outside the frame of any & all self-proclaimed poetic mainstreams."
Granary Books moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to New York City in late 1988.
Archivist, author, curator, and publisher Steve Clay says that he backed his way into publishing through his interest in "the ways in which writing was distributed on the margins, the kind of sociology of book distribution among small presses, and the poets who were producing work that was primarily published in small presses," along with his interest in booksellers such as Phoenix Book Shop, the Eighth Street Book Shop, Asphodel, Serendipity, Sand Dollar, Gotham and City Lights.
Its first publication (published as Origin Books in 1986) was Noah Webster to Wee Lorine Niedecker by Jonathan Williams. Clay says that publishing "became more self-conscious as a project" and "serious in its ambition" in 1991 with the publication of Nods, with text by John Cage and drawings by Barbara Farhner. Since then, many of Granary Books' publications have continued to be collaborations or pairings between poets/writers and visual artists.
Starting in the mid-nineties Granary Books began publishing books that contextualize scholarship in the history of small press publishing, poetry, and artists' books. These include Johanna Drucker's The Century of Artists' Books, Jerome Rothenberg and Steve Clay's A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections About the Book & Writing, Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips's A Secret Location on the Lower East Side, and Betty Bright's No Longer Innocent: Book Art in America 1960–1980.
The author, book artist, visual theorist, and cultural critic Johanna Drucker described Granary Books' publishing aesthetic as "late twentieth-century fine press meets literary experiment and innovative arts." As of August 2014, Granary Books has a checklist with over 160 publications that includes limited editions and trade editions of poetry, artists books, and books about books.
Limited Editions (selected)
- John Ashbery and Trevor Winkfield. Faster Than Birds Can Fly, 2009.
- Jen Bervin and Marta Werner. The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope-Poems, 2012.
- John Cage and Barbara Fahrner. Nods, 1991.
- Henrik Drescher. Too Much Bliss, 1992.
- Johanna Drucker. Stochastic Poetics, 2012.
- Vincent Katz and Francesco Clemente. Alcuni Telefonini, 2008.
- Terence McKenna and Timothy C. Ely. Synesthesia, 1992.
- Emily McVarish. Flicker, 2005.
- Ron Padgett and George Schneeman. Yodeling into a Kotex, 2003.
- Jerome Rothenberg and Susan Bee. The Burning Babe, 2005.
- Edward Sanders, A Book of Glyphs, 2014.
- Leslie Scalapino and Kiki Smith. The Animal is in the World Like Water in Water, 2010.
- Buzz Spector. A Passage, 1994.
- Cecilia Vicuña, Chanccani Quipu, 2012.
- Marjorie Welish and James Siena. Oaths? Questions?, 2009.
- John Yau and Max Gimblett. The Book of the Anonymous, 2012.
Trade Editions (selected)
- David Antin and Charles Bernstein. A Conversation with David Antin, 2002.
- Ted Berrigan, Ron Padget and Joe Brainard. Bean Spasms, 2012.
- Joe Brainard. I Remember, 2001.
- Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips. A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960–1980: A Sourcebook of Information, 1998.
- Simon Cutts. Some Forms of Availability, 2007.
- Johanna Drucker. The Century of Artists' Books, 2004.
- Lyn Hejinian. A Border Comedy, 2001.
- Piero Heliczer. A Purchase in the White Botanica, 2001.
- Ligorano/Reese with Gerrit Lansing. Turning Leaves of Mind, 2003.
- Jackson Mac Low. Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955–2002, 2005.
- Jerome Rothenberg and Steven Clay, ed. A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing, 2000.
- Edward Sanders, A Book of Glyphs, 2014.
- Lewis Warsh and Julie Harrison, Debtor's Prison, 2001.
- Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman, eds. Angel Hair Sleeps with a Boy in My Head: The Angel Hair Anthology, 2001.
In addition to publishing, Granary Books is involved in the preservation and sale of archives, manuscripts, and rare books by important contemporary writers and artists from the 1960s forward.
Some of the archives that Granary Books has placed include: Charles Bernstein, Burning Deck Press, Ira Cohen (The Bardo Matrix, Gnaoua, and The Great Society featuring Angus MacLise, Jack Smith, and Piero Heliczer), Clark Coolidge, Robert Creeley, Ray DiPalma, Richard Foreman (Ontological-Hysteric Theater), Kathleen Fraser, Susan Howe, Susan King, Joanne Kyger, Ann Lauterbach, Bernadette Mayer, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church (literary organization archive), M/E/A/N/I/N/G (art journal archive), Patty [Oldenberg] Mucha (New York City Artworld in the Sixties & Seventies), Ron Padgett, Carolee Schneemann, Leslie Scalapino, Patti Smith (featured in the Janet Hamill Archive), Lewis Warsh, Marjorie Welish, Jane [Brakhage] Wodening, and Woodland Pattern Book Center (literary organization archive).
Granary Books has placed archives in: The Library of Congress; Beinecke Library at Yale University; Fales Library at New York University, Mandeville Special Collections Library at University of California, San Diego; Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley; New York Public Library, John Hay Library at Brown University; and Green Library at Stanford University, among others.
In 2013, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired the archive of Granary Books which includes over thirty years of materials which reflects the complete history of the press.
Threads Talk Series
Steve Clay and Kyle Schlesinger have curated a series of talks since 2009 about the art of the book featuring poets, scholars, artists, and publishers. The talks are recorded before a small audience at Granary Books and made available on PennSound. Speakers have included Alan Loney, Charles Alexander, Simon Cutts, Jerome Rothenberg, Cecilia Vicuña, Jen Bervin, Kathleen Walkup, Johanna Drucker, Keith Smith, Richard Minsky, and Emily McVarish.
- "About Granary Books". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Rothenberg, Jerome. "Steve Clay's Granary Books: A Tribute," Too Much Bliss: Twenty Years of Granary Books. Smith College Museum of Art. November 12, 200–February 19, 2006". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- >Brossard, Olivier (December 2001). "Interview with Steve Clay of Granary Books, Friday 2 February, 2001". Jacket. 15. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Drucker, Johanna; Amino, Leo Genji. "Threads Talk: Johanna Drucker on Granary Books". Jacket 2. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Granary Books Archives". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Granary Books Archive". Columbia University Libraries/Information Services. November 13, 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Craig, David J. (Summer 2014). "Columbia Libraries Acquire Archives of "Artist Book" Publisher Granary". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Threads Talk Series". PennSound. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Clay, Steven. When Will the Book be Done?: Granary's Books. Preface by Charles Bernstein. New York: Granary Books, 2001.
- Schlesinger, Kyle. Poems & Pictures: A Renaissance in the Art of the Book (1946–1981). New York: The Center for Book Arts, 2010.