University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids

Navigation Aids

University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids
Search Finding Aids

Main Content

Singing Horse Press records

Ms. Coll. 389

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Singing Horse Press.
Singing Horse Press records
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 389
21 boxes
The collection comprises correspondence (485 folders in 20 boxes) and production materials related to Paper Air (23 folders in one box). The correspondence includes solicitations for poetry from Gil Ott and the responses that he received. The poets’ works were either published as books by Singing Horse Press or in the magazine  Paper Air.
Cite as:
Singing Horse Press records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

Return to Top »


Gil Ott founded Singing Horse Press in 1976 to publish the kinds of innovative writing all too often overlooked by mainstream trade and academic presses. In his tenure as director of the press, Ott produced a wide-ranging list of titles by a diverse group of authors, including Charles Bernstein, Harryette Mullen, Norman Fischer, and Rosmarie Waldrop, among others. Singing Horse Press publishes four books per year, one or two of which are unsolicited; moreover, these books comprise of a diverse range of experimental poetry and prose.

The journal Paper Air, which Singing Horse Press published from 1976 through 1990, was the recipient of an Editors’ Fellowship from the Council of Literary Magazines and presses in 1985.  Paper Air’s history spans two important schools of poetics during Ott’s reign, with a strong base in poets associated with later objectivism, and providing a forum for those who subsequently founded the language school in the late 70s and 80s. Special issues of  Paper Air brought the first thorough critical attention to the work of John Taggart (1979) and Jackson Mac Low (1980), and one entire issue was devoted to the groundbreaking essay-in-verse “Artifice of Absorption”, by Charles Bernstein (1987). Three issues in the mid-80s focused on contemporary poets in France, Japan, and England.

Ott was not satisfied with the limits of Paper Air. You can do more for the poet with books, he argued. “Magazines have a very short shelf life, usually about three months. Unfortunately that’s true for all magazines . . . it’s the same situation with poetry magazines, although you don’t find them in dentist’s waiting rooms. I have boxes of them in my basement, which I’ve been trying to pawn off for years. Poetry magazines which, to me, have value. But to librarians, even rare book librarians, they have no value. Publishing a magazine is ultimately futile, if you’re looking for some kind of permanence for the poet. You have to do books. Even smaller books have greater impact than magazines” (Ott).

Paper Air magazine comprises a significant period in the history of Singing Horse Press, however, it was by no means the only publication put out by the Press. Published copies of Singing Horse Press texts include, Leslie Scalapino and Kevin Killian’s  Stone Marmalade, Ammiel Alcalay’s  The Cario Notebooks, Harryette Mullen’s  Muse & Drudge and  S*PeRM**K*T, Rachel Blau DuPlessis’  Draft X: Letters, Julia Blumenreich’s  Meeting Tessie, and Karen Kelley’s  Her Angel, and many others. Peer Journals comprise an excellent collection of the small, literary magazines and books representative of this period.

In 2004, Ott turned the press over to Paul Naylor.

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of correspondence and production materials related to its journal Paper Air. The correspondence includes solicitations for poetry from Gil Ott and the responses he received. The poets’ works were either published as books by Singing Horse Press or in  Paper Air.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2001

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Patricia Hopkins

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Purchase from Gil Ott, 2001

Return to Top »

Controlled Access Headings

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • American poetry--20th century--Periodicals
  • Book industries and trade
  • Poetry
  • Poetry, modern--20th century--History and criticism--Periodicals
  • Poetry--Collections--20th century
  • Publishers and publishing

Return to Top »

Other Finding Aids

For a complete listing of correspondents, do the following ns2:title search in Franklin: Singing Horse Press Records

Collection Inventory

I.  Correspondence.

Box Folder


1 1-23


2 24-43


3 44-66


4 67-92


5 93-119


6 120-149


7 150-173


8 174-208


9 209-225


10 226-247


11 248-270


12 271-299


13 300-326


14 327-365


15 366-379


16 380-399


17 400-417


18 418-441


19 442-463


20 464-485

Return to Top »

II.  Paper Air.

Box Folder

Manuscripts/Proofs, 1976-1985, undated.

21 486-508

Reviews/Articles, 1987.

21 494

Journals, 1976-1990.

21 495-499

Business, 1985-1986.

21 500

Business/Correspondence, 1985-1986.

21 501-502

Sales, 1987-1988.

21 503

Solicitations, 1988.

21 504

Correspondence A-O, 1979-1991.

21 505

Correspondence P-Z, 1977-1989.

21 506

Orders and Receipts, 1977-1990.

21 507

Solicitations, 1987.

21 508

Return to Top »