Small Press Traffic

a semicolon with a green bottom and a yellow top, made to look like a dandelion.

SPT is celebrating 50 years! Learn more about our history, anniversary programs and developing archives

50 years ago…. 

Jim Mitchell and Denise Kastan were lamenting that there were no spaces dedicated exclusively to small press literature in San Francisco, so they approached Donn Tatum and Steve Lowell, owners of Paperback Traffic in the Castro, about using the back room of their bookstore to sell small press books and magazines. Within a year of operating out of this shop, with Beau Beausoleil's involvement, Small Press Traffic moved into its own storefront on 24th and Vicksburg St, between Church and Sanchez. 

In 1976, Robert Glück started volunteering with SPT. He hosted a reading series and free walk-in writing workshops until 1985. That year, Katharine Harer became director, just before the bookstore moved down the block to 3599 24th St. John Norton managed the bookstore in the early 90s. Small Press Traffic held readings, events, and workshops throughout these years.

In January 1995, due to an unexpected increase in rent, Small Press Traffic lost its lease to the storefront. Dodie Bellamy navigated the move to New College of California, and then California College of the Arts. Today, we are lucky to have our archives at Et al. Gallery in the Mission, and hold our events there, The Lab, ATA, and elsewhere around the city and region.

We’ll be sharing much more about our beginnings, our 50-year trajectory, and the many individuals and groups who have touched our organization over the years. For now, here’s a quick peek at the anniversary programs ahead:

& much more coming in the Fall!

We’re ecstatic to announce that our print collection of books, chapbooks, magazines, and zines are almost ready for public visitation in early 2024. We will also unveil the digital archive on our website, with image reproductions and audio recordings of poetry readings that have taken place in the Bay Area over the past fifty years. Later in the year, we’ll celebrate a special anniversary publication and start sharing clips from our oral history project.

Please support our efforts with a one-time, annual, or monthly donation. 

Drawing of the Small Press Traffic storefront in 1980 by Ed Aulerich-Sugai (courtesy of Denise Kastan Zetterbaum)

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