First the letterpress seduced me, and then the name arrested me. . . I imagined a literal gray wolf, neither exclusively black nor white, something fierce and howling at the moon, like writers themselves.
Graywolf Press was founded in 1974, in Port Townsend, Washington, by Scott Walker. Graywolf’s first publications were limited-edition chapbooks of poetry, which were printed on a letterpress and hand sewn by Walker and his colleagues. Graywolf was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1984, and in 1985, thanks in part to generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and from local philanthropic organizations, we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Fiona McCrae has lead the press as Director and Publisher since 1994. We joined forces with Farrar, Straus & Giroux for distribution in 2002, and we moved across the Mississippi River to Minneapolis in 2009.
Today, Graywolf is considered one of the nation’s leading nonprofit publishers, with a $4 million annual budget. We remain dedicated to publishing poetry, and our lists have expanded to include fiction and nonfiction as well. We publish 30–35 books each year by authors at all stages of their careers, from the United States and around the world.
Our work as an organization has been recognized with multiple prizes, including the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for vision, the Minnesota Nonprofit Excellence Award, and the AWP Small Publisher Award, and with major grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and many other foundations and cultural institutions.
In recent years, our books and authors have received significant national and international awards, including the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. Our archives have been housed at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library since 2009.
Right: Director and Publisher Fiona McCrae and Graywolf founder Scott Walker at the University of Minnesota in 2015. Photo by Jayme Hallbritter.