Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Archive of Independent Literary Publisher Hanging Loose Press

Since 1966, Hanging Loose Press has published poetry, books, and Hanging Loose Magazine, which grew out of the short-lived literary journal Things, published in the early 1960s by two Columbia students, Emmet Jarrett and Ron Schreiber.  The magazine took its name from the format of its earliest issues: loose sheets of paper in a 6x9-inch envelope.  The Press began publishing books in 1972, and has since produced more than 200 titles. 

"Columbia University is the most appropriate location for the press archive, because, in a way, Hanging Loose is an offspring of Columbia.” Said the Hanging Loose Press collective in a statement. “It is hoped that the collection will be a valuable asset for those interested in the history of American poetry over the last half-century.”

Still in operation today, the Press is run by a collective of editors in Boston and Brooklyn, including Robert Hershon and Dick Lourie, who have been involved since the first issue. The editors review all submitted unsolicited manuscripts, which has resulted in the publication of many first books.  Among many notable authors, Sherman Alexie and Ha Jin have been published by the Press. The Press is also known to publish writers from under-represented groups, including high school students and incarcerated poets.

"We are thrilled to bring this important independent publisher’s collection to Columbia," said Karla Nielsen, curator of literature at RBML. "The Hanging Loose Press members have made all editorial decisions collectively for decades and recorded that process on in-house routing slips. They have sought to be inclusive, yet nonetheless have clear aesthetic commitments, and their records show how they have balanced those concerns." 

The Press has published the work of many writers with connections to Columbia, many of whom are represented in other RBML collections, such as Charles North, Paul Violi, Maureen Owen, and Hettie Jones.

The archive includes production files for each book and issue of the journal, notes from editorial meetings, and detailed records of the organization’s acquisition process. Many of the records are paper and ink, even those produced in the twenty-first century, an unusual practice for modern literary presses.  

Hanging Loose Press has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the Fund for Poetry, among others.