Welcome to this Web site which showcases the publications of The Gauntlet Press, for more than forty years the principal publishing outlet for the remarkable poetic and artistic partnership between the Canadian poet Richard Outram and the artist Barbara Howard.
Richard Outram (1930-2005) is, in the words of the writer and critic Alberto Manguel, 'one of the finest poets in the English language'. Between 1959 and 2005 he published more than twenty books, each a carefully wrought whole in itself, yet each testifying to an overarching unity of purpose and sensibility, remarkable in its persistence through five decades of poetic practice. He was a poet equally at home in free verse and in formal verse, in 'high talk' and in vernacular; he could be decorous and bawdy, reverent and irreverent, within the bounds of a single collection - even within the bounds of a single poem.
Outram's concern for prosody - what he called, quoting Richard Blackmur, 'the precise and loving care of the motion of meaning in language' - was matched by precise and loving care for the marriage of word and image, a marriage he saw reflected in his own. Outram's wife was the painter and wood engraver Barbara Howard (1926-2002), a brilliant artist in her own right. Over the course of their life together they collaborated on a series of books and broadsides which brought word and image into conversation; many of these publications were typeset and hand-printed, letterpress, by Outram; they were designed and bound in handmade and marbled papers by Howard. All were issued in extremely limited editions and circulated among friends and colleagues.
The digital showcase presented here comprises some 92 rare Gauntlet Press publications ranging from single-sheet broadsides to book-length collections. These include a number of later broadsides that lack the characteristic Gauntlet Press colophon, but adhere to the same quality design standards that distinguish the Press. Also included are three early broadsides that were issued prior to the creation of that imprint. Together these constitute a major research resource for scholars and students of Outram's and Howard's literary and artistic achievement. The purpose of making them available over the Web is to provide convenient access to them for people not within visiting range of the Thomas Fisher Library of the University of Toronto or Memorial University where the two major Gauntlet Press collections are located. The digital medium does not do justice to the physical presence of the letterpress-printed broadsides, with their embossed printed forms and their delicate papers; for this reason we encourage visitors to the library to experience the works on the page. But the digital medium is well suited to the display of the electronically-designed and printed broadsides of the Gauntlet Press's final phase, which are returned, in this exhibition, to the medium in which they were created.
Also of note is the Gauntlet Press Postscript which consists of two poetic sequences Nine Shiners and Brief Immortals. Originally sent only to a small circle of close friends, these intensely personal final poems, accompanied by reproductions of Howard’s paintings, were written by Outram in the anguished months following the sudden death of his wife. Although they do not, designedly, constitute part of the output of the Gauntlet Press, they are included here because of the critical important place they occupy in Outram’s and Howard’s artistic and poetic collaboration.
The Queen Elizabeth II Library's collections also include works by Outram and Howard which were issued by other publishing houses and visitors to this Web site are invited to peruse the library catalogue for full details about them.
This Outram/Howard collection has been assembled almost entirely within the sixteen-month period October 2007 to January 2009. Before then the Queen Elizabeth II Library owned just a handful of commercially published collections of Richard Outram’s poetry. The collection’s rapid growth to its present size is due to the collected efforts of a number of people whose invaluable aid we are happy to acknowledge.
We are deeply grateful to Susan Warner Keene and Peter Newman of the Literary and Artistic Estates of Richard Outram and Barbara Howard who not only arranged for the donation of the majority of the Gauntlet Press materials upon which this collection is founded but have been enthusiastic supporters of the creation of this Web site; to Richard Landon and Luba Frastacky of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library; and to Amanda Jernigan, Bradley Clissold and their colleagues in Memorial University’s Department of English who alerted the Library to the fact that publications from the estates of Howard and Outram were available.
For the high-quality Gauntlet Press reproductions on this site we are indebted to photographer John Haney (johnhaney.ca). The descriptions of many of the works in the collection have been adapted from the bibliographic entries prepared by Don McLeod for his ‘A Checklist of The Gauntlet Press, 1960-95’ published in DA: A Journal of the Printing Arts 44 (1999). We are grateful to Mr McLeod for allowing us to reproduce his descriptions in this revised form. Supplementary descriptions were contributed by Martin Howley and Amanda Jernigan. An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to Amanda also for her countless contributions to the documentation on the Gauntlet Press.
We are also indebted to the CBC for permission to use the interview conducted by Michael Enright, 'Richard Outram . A Passion for Poetry', that aired originally on April 7, 2002. It is a valuable addition to the Web site.
We would also like to express our appreciation to Slavko Manojlovich of Memorial University’s Digital Archive Initiative for generous financial support of this project. Staff of the Library who have contributed to creating the Web site include:
Elizabeth Browne, Cataloguer, Memorial University, QEII Library
Dan Duda, Map Librarian, QEII Library
Ian Gillies, Library Assistant, QEII Library (who helped with the graphics)
Pamela Cline Howley, Metadata Librarian, QEII Library
Martin Howley, Humanities Librarian, QEII Library
Patrick Miskell, Library Assistant, QEII Library
Don Walsh, Digital Archives Technician, Memorial University