Kelsey Street Press

Kelsey Street Press was formed around 1975 in Berkeley to publish finely crafted small press editions of some of the literature being written by women at that time. It grew out of the early 1970s Berkeley Poets Cooperative, which met every Wednesday evening for open readings and discussion of one another’s writing. A small group of women began meeting separately weekly in addition to the large group. Although there wa a wide range of styles and voices among us, those of us who participated in this smaller group generally felt that the feedback we got on our poetry from other women was more useful or somehow in tune with what we were trying to do.

Patricia Dienstfrey and I had taken a letterpress printing and book design class from Clifford Burke. We were then loaned a small Chandler and Price printing press by Fred Cody and began working on a bilingual edition of selected poems—my translations from Italian of Margherita Guidacci’s Neurosuite. There were a number of interesting small presses in the Bay Area at that time who inspired us, including Five Trees Press, Poltroon, Rebus and others, as well as a thriving locus for offset book production at the West Coast Print Center. It was a lively scene for poetry writing, reading and publishing; looking back on it, there is a magical quality of empowerment, and the courage to try something new and risky that we all shared. Eventually there coalesced a small group of us who wanted to publish the work of other women. The original Press members were Karen Brodine, Kit Duane, Patricia Dienstfrey, Laura Moriarty, Rena Rosenwasser, and myself. Patricia and I finished that first book on a Vandercook flatbed press and hand-sewed the binding.

My interest in and production of small editions of hand-crafted books has continued, though I left the Press in 1981. Kelsey Street Press continues to publish today. Their website is at: