The Printers and People of Small Presses
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Kim Merker (1932–2013)
Kim Merker, an artisanal printmaker who made a life of publishing books, has passed away at the age of eighty-one. Paul Vitello of the New York Times calls Merker “a designer, typesetter, and printer of some of the most beautiful books made in America . . . . All were vessels for poems that he found promising, interesting, or indisputably excellent and about which he was usually right: Some of the young poets he published went on to achieve renown.” Philip Levine, Mark Strand, and James Tate were among these young poets, all of whom were largely unknown when Merker began working with them and all whom went on to win Pulitzer Prizes. Commenting on this, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts Dana Gioia said: “If you look at a list of important American poets today, a surprising number of them had their early work printed by Kim Merker.” Merker started two hand-press publishing imprints—Stone Wall Press in 1957 and Windhover in 1967—both of which he ran until 1999, when he suffered a stroke that ended his work.