Chax Press: Publishing Poetics

Sep 5, 2013 - Sep 29, 2013


Chax Press: Publishing Poetics is an exhibition of seventy-five letterpress and offset books and broadsides featuring the work of contemporary poets, designed and executed by Charles Alexander and collaborators at Chax Press in Tucson, Arizona

For thirty-five years, Charles Alexander has written, read, typeset, printed, published, and taught poetry, and countless readers and writers are indebted to his unstinting devotion.

While in college at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1981, Charles teamed up with Alison Circle to form the Black Mesa Press, which issued dozens of limited-edition books and broadsides by exciting and important contemporary poets. Typeset, printed, and bound by hand (often using handmade papers), the productions of the Black Mesa Press exemplified a turn taken by a number of fine presses in the 1980s, away from familiar and safe texts and toward experimental and innovative writers.

With a move to Tucson in 1984, Chax Press was born. Though making books by hand has remained an important touchstone for the press, Chax committed itself from the start to providing challenging work by innovative poets in handsome, affordable trade editions.

For thirty years, Charles and company have pursued a critical and exploratory poetics of publishing, through all the varied means at their disposal. This exhibition of books and broadsides, which merely hints at the scope and richness of their accomplishments, coincides with the publication of two new Chax books by Portland poets: The Notebook of False Purgatories by Standard Schaefer, and The Identification of Ghosts by Maryrose Larkin.

Exhibition conceived and organized by David Abel / Passages Bookshop