Allan Kornblum, 1949-2014

Allan Kornblum, founder of Coffee House Press and Toothpaste Press, passed away on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Kornblum was a poet, an editor, a publisher, a letterpress printer, and a mentor and teacher to many.

In 1970, Kornblum moved from New York to Iowa City where he studied letterpress printing and founded Toothpaste Press, a limited-edition letterpress publisher of poetry chapbooks (covers of two authored by Kornblum pictured above), and the mimeographed poetry magazine Toothpaste (covers for six issues above).

By 1984, Toothpaste had relocated to Minneapolis and became Coffee House Press, one of the premier nonprofit literary publishers in the nation. Coffee House Press will hold a public celebration of Allan’s life in the new year.

The Hennepin County Library Special Collections Book Arts and Fine Press Collection includes many early editions published by Kornblum under Toothpaste Press. Circulating books published by Coffee House Press are available throughout the HCL system.

Star Tribune article: Coffee House Press founder Allan Kornblum passes away

Grabanowska 6 Grabanowska 6


Zawiadamiam Białą i okolicę, że mój długo-letni hurtowy sklep kolonialny został przeniesiony do nowego domu na Grabanowskiej 6 (front) i jest zaopatrzony w wybór produktów po całkiem przystępnych cenach. Solidna obsługa!

Z uwagą Jakob Kornblum

Grabanowska 6 Grabanowska 6

Bialer Wochenblat, nr 43 (1936).


Iowa City: Toothpaste Press, 1971. First edition. Paperback. 4to. unpaginated. Side-stapled in card wraps. The fifth issue. Highlights include Berrigan’s poem “Frank O’Hara”, and “Night & Day” by Berrigan and Lewis Macadams Jr. Also features contributions from Clark Coolidge, Ray DiPalma, Anselm Hollo, Gerard Malanga, Bernadette Mayer, Tom Raworth, 


Allan Kornblum: In December 1969, I was working the midnight-to-eight-thirty shift at the Grand Central Station post office in NYC, and attending poetry workshops at the St. Mark’s Church Poetry Project. One evening, the workshop leader told us that we had been asked to help collate the pages of a mimeographed magazine. In one of the back rooms of the old church, we were greeted by a group of 2 x 6 foot tables, each with five stacks of 250 pages. When I completed my assigned portion, I sidled up to the editor, told him how much I liked his magazine, asked if he’d like to see some of my work. He looked off in the distance, sighed and said, “I’ve always thought poetry should be as hard to break into as the Longshoreman’s Union.” To hell with him, I thought—I’ll start my own. I’ve always been grateful for that kick in the pants, which can sometimes be far more productive than well-intended encouragement.

I had already planned to attend the University of Iowa next year, so I told all my NYC friends that I was going to start a magazine following my relocation. And when I arrived in Iowa City in July 1970, I started looking for poets as lively as the ones I’d met in New York. By the end of August, I had produced the first issue of Toothpastemagazine. In September, I signed up for a class called Intro to Typography, hoping it would help me understand the publishing process when, in the future, some NYC publishing house accepted my first book. Instead I discovered the class was an introduction to letterpress printing. I was a bit put off at first—until I handset some type and pulled my first proof.


I have had the opportunity and pleasure of publishing a number of Asian American writers, including writers who arrived on these shores in early and/or mid-life, and those whose grandparents, or even great-grandparents, arrived here long ago. I know what their work is all about, and from their work and from other reading, I have developed a greater context for the books we’ve published, which has increased my appreciation for our authors, and made me a better editor… I can say that among serious white readers, there does persist a rarely spoken assumption that occasionally bubbles to the surface, and that continually pisses me off: the assumption that writers of color are so intent on speaking for and/or to their particular communities, that rather than experiment with the latest literary techniques, they rely on simple story-telling. I hope that the books we’ve published…will contribute to blasting that pernicious idea out of the water.
—  Allan Kornblum, 1949-2014, from Asian American Literary Review. (Thank you Bao Phi & Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis for posting this on FB.)
Contributor Allan Appel remembers his former editor, Allan Kornblum.

Contributor Allan Appel remembers his former editor, Allan Kornblum.

By Allan Appel

My dear old friend, editor, and publisher Allan Kornblum died Sunday after a battle with leukemia. He founded the now estimable Coffee House Press in Minneapolis, but back when Allan, with his huge frizzy “Isro” of a haircut, shifted from being a young poet in late 1960s New York City to being a publisher, his operation was only a letterpress in the basement of his farmhouse in…

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Allan Kornblum dies at 65; founder of Coffee House Press

Allan Kornblum, who founded Toothpaste Press in 1973 in Iowa City, and reinvented it as Coffee House Press after moving to Minneapolis in 1984, died on Sunday of complications from leukemia. He was 65. First diagnosed in 2006, Kornblum continued to run Coffee House until 2011, when he turned…

Andauer Zweigelt Hannes Reeh 13,5 %


Man tut hier nicht nur runtersaufen, sondern hin und da auch dem Rachen eine Versöhnung gönnen. Also einen stubenreinen Roten.

Zum v. Gansl passt des Rotwild im Zweigelt Reeh oder zur Brettljausn wie Sie sich Ihnen am angehanganen Foto ein Bild machen können. Guat und eigentlich rauchig, also zum Steak wie dünnflüssige Babekiu-Sauce sagt er auch freundlich baba. Und des Gaumenzapferl wird von dem feinen Aroma der Kornblume umarmt.

Würde mich die Kunsthistorie nur auf einem Augal interessieren, was sie leider nicht tut, würde ich sagen: Barockess! Spitzig, die Etikette.

Aber für den Zweigelt brauch ich leider einGeld damit er geigelt.

Zum Voting:

Farbe: 3/5

Duft: §/5

Geschmack: 4/5

Präsendation: 5/5