by Hannah Thompson


Walter Hamady, with the assistance of his wife Mary Laird Hamady, hand-set and printed four collections of William Stafford's poetry at his Perishable Press in Wisconsin, the most creative small-press collaboration of Stafford's life. Hamady's student Elizabeth Coberly used the same press to print a fifth Stafford collection at her Night Heron Press, and was also the illustrator of the last Perishable collection of Stafford poetry.


In the 1970s, perhaps encouraged by the successful collaboration with Walter Hamady, Stafford joined forces with two talented and very different woodblock artists. Artist, pacifist, and translator of Chinese poetry, Wang Hui-Ming (seen here in a 1971 photograph by William Stafford) was an interpreter with the US Army in World War II, and after the war came to this country to teach Chinese language and literature at Yale, and art at the University of Massachusetts. He was art editor of the pacifist journal The Phoenix, and formed his Epoh Studio imprint to publish his distinctive woodcut prints and illustrated texts by William Stafford, Robert Bly, James Agee, Siv Cedering Fox, Linda Pastan, and others. He made contact with Stafford in 1970 at the Library of Congress during Stafford's consultancy there. In addition to the woodcuts of Stafford's poems, seven of which were included in his anthology of sixteen poets The Land on the Tip of a Hair, alongside work by Bly, Fox, Ignatow, Pastan, Pickard, Simic, Tate, Tranströmer and others, Wang was also the author of Ten Poems and Lyrics by Mao Tse-tung, an anthology of T'ang poems The Boat Untied, and Bly's Jumping Out of Bed. Wang died in 2006 at the age of 84.

Barry Moser is one of this country's most distinguished woodcut artists and book illustrators, working from his Pennyroyal Press in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Born in 1940, he studied with Wang Hui-Ming at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Designer and illustrator of hundreds of notable volumes, he is best known for his illustrations of Lewis Carroll's Alice books, the Bible, and Moby-Dick. His 1976 rendering of Stafford's poem Late, Passing Prairie Farm, in a small square-format volume containing two woodcuts (of a farm at night, and of an owl) is one of William Stafford's most beautiful books, and was their only collaboration.