This is a series of ongoing interviews with women actively engaged with small-press publishing between the 1950s and 1980s. It comes from a desire not only to preserve their accounts but also to draw wider attention to the vital role of women editors and publishers in the mimeograph revolution and beyond. In these decades “poems were bouncing off the sidewalk” (Maureen Owen), and this series traces some of those madcap trajectories.
This interview took place via email between October 2014 and January 2015. It focuses on Jaime Robles’ role as co-editor of Five Trees Press, 1973-78 in San Francisco. The Center for the Book Arts in San Francisco will host a retrospective, “Sisters of Invention: 45 years of Book Art by Sas Colby, Betsy Davids and Jaime Robles,” October 23, 2015-January 10, 2016, which will give a historical overview of the development of the work of women book artists within the SF Bay Area small press scene from the mid ’70s to today.
Stephanie Anderson: A Stanford University Special Collection round-up of “California Printers in the Fine Press Tradition” describes the press in the following: “Three women founded Five Trees Press in a rented storefront in San Francisco’s Noe Valley in 1973. Kathleen Walkup, Jaime Robles, and Cheryl Miller had become acquainted through Clifford Burke’s Cranium Press, where Miller worked as an apprentice, and through Wesley Tanner at Arif Press in Berkeley. Each brought different skills and interests to the partnership, where they taught each other, working both independently and in mutually supportive ways. Most of the press’s energy was devoted to printing, publishing and distributing small chapbooks of poetry written by women writers, some well established, such as H.D. and Denise Levertov, and others whose work would not have been considered for publication by the predominantly male printing establishment. The press also published the work of cowboy poet Gino Clays Sky and the New England poet Paul Metcalf.” Will you talk a little more about how you, Kathy, and Cheryl met? What kinds of “skills and interests” did you each have?