Poetry and the Heritage Press Archives

Poetry should treat, Of lofty things, Soaring thoughts, And birds with wings.—Langston Hughes

April is National Poetry Month. Let's celebrate by taking a look at the history of an important publishing company, Heritage Press.

Heritage Press, founded by Paul Breman and operated out of London from 1962 to 1975, was one of the most important publishers of black poetry of its time. Countless African American writers could not get their works published in the United States because numerous American publishers thought there was no demand.

Best known for virtually launching the careers of Robert Hayden, Audre Lorde and Dolores Kendrick, the press also published major works of poetry by Arna Bontemps, Waring Cuney, Fenton Johnson, Ishmael Reed and prominent members of the Black Arts Movement, including Chicagoans Conrad Kent Rivers and Ronald Fair.

The Heritage Press Archives include correspondence, manuscripts, booklets, publicity, clippings and photographs. The collection is held at Chicago Public Library's Vivian G. Harsh Research of Afro-American History and Literature.

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