Oyez Press

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Robert Hawley was born in 1929 in Stockbridge, Wisconsin . He was a student at Black Mountain College in 1956, shortly before that institution closed its doors. Although he already had an M.A. in English and was an aspiring poet, Charles Olson discouraged him in this regard, but suggested to Hawley that he give publishing a try. By 1957, Hawley was in Berkeley, California, working as a bookseller specializing in Western Americana at the Holmes Book Company .

In 1964, Robert Hawley and Stevens van Strum started the Oyez Press by soliciting poems from noteworthy American poets to be published in a series of broadsides, effectively pioneering this publishing medium for poetry. This initial series consisted of ten broadsides, by such poets as William Everson ( Brother Antoninus ), Gary Snyder, Charles Olson, Michael McClure, and others. The first Oyez book was a collection of poetry by David Meltzer . It was during this period that Hawley began his business relationship with printer Graham Mackintosh . The Oyez poetry editions were well regarded for the simplicity and elegance of their designs. Although not all Oyez books were designed by Mackintosh, several of his designs did receive awards, including an edition of William Everson's Single Source that was selected as one of the 50 books of the year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts .

By the late 1960s, Oyez was publishing about ten books a year, even after Stevens van Strum departed the concern (around 1968), and even though Hawley continued with his day job at the Holmes Book Company. Although the print runs of Oyez books were limited at the cost of the books was kept low, the press did well so long as it had standing orders from universities and book stores with an interest in poetry and rare books. However, inventories began to mount and the cash reserves of the press began to dwindle in time. Hawley eventually turned over the distribution of the Oyez titles to Serendipity Books .

In 1978, Hawley opened his own book shop, the Ross Valley Book Company, in Albany, California (near Oakland). Even though the Oyez press continued to publish sporadically during the next few years, money troubles seriously limited the pace of Hawley's publishing projects. While a collection of poems by Samuel Charters was published in 1992, it is the only book-length project put out by Oyez since 1987. However, friends of the press have also received periodic keepsakes and pamphlets with the Oyez imprint over the years, a number of which are preserved in this collection.

From the guide to the Oyez Press Records., 1963-1987., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center .)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Oyez Press Records., 1963-1987. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Little presses--California
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Publisher
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