Contact Press By Anstee, Cameron
Contact Press was an independent Canadian small press founded by Louis Dudek (1918–2001), Irving Layton (1912–2006), and Raymond Souster (1921–2012) that operated from 1952 to 1967. Cerberus (1952), Contact Press’s debut title, included poems and a preface from the three founding editors, establishing an editorial position defined by the will to control the means of publication, to support experimental modernist work, and to oppose dominant post-WWII forces of capitalist industry and commerce in the content and production of their books. As Layton explained in his preface, ‘What brings us together […] is the belief that to write poetry is to say a loud nix to the forces high-pressuring us into conformity or atomic dispersion’ (Dudek and Gnarowski 1967, 145). The name ‘Contact’ was derived from Souster’s little magazine Contact (1952–1954), which derived its name from American magazine Contact, edited by William Carlos Williams and Robert McAlmon (1920–1923, 1932). The name was also used for Souster’s Toronto-based Contact Poetry Reading Series (1957–1962). Contact Press published significant books by many of Canada’s important modernist poets and established a viable precedent for Canadian small presses that has persisted in its influence into the twenty-first century.