Wolverine Press is the publishing exploratory for the Helen Zell Writers' Program.
Stocked with historic letterpress equipment from around the state of Michigan, the Press provides MFA students, and the university community, a space to encounter publishing history. The mission of the press is to create opportunities for people to encounter the traditional craft practices of printing, and discover that the labor of publishing is physical as well as intellectual.
Interning with Wolverine Press
Wolverine Press produces hand-made letterpress broadsides and keepsakes for the Zell Visiting Writers Series readings at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, as well as other pieces based on program need and student interest. Each year the Press takes on up to five MFA students as shop assistants, called Devils. These Printer’s Devils assist in all aspects of shop work, learning how to set metal and wood type, how to prepare jobs for the press, and how to run the press, all in the service of transforming fiction and poetry into one-of-a-kind objects of beauty.
Learning about the other side of writing—about what really happens when ink meets paper—gives students an understanding of the literal weight of their words.
Working at Wolverine Press gives me a tactile creative outlet that is also a unique way to relate to visiting writers. It means something special to present a visiting writer with a hand-crafted, hand-set, letterpress printed and student-designed piece of their work that you've spent hours creating. Wolverine Press lets me slow down to learn poems with my body as much as my mind.
— Molly Dickinson MFA '17
Working at Wolverine Press is so much fun. It’s creative and collaborative, and you can focus on what interests you—including editing, designing, typesetting, and printing. After two years at the press I’m now pursuing my Zell project with WP: re-publishing public domain texts alongside contemporary hybrid pieces. Did I mention it’s fun? I love Wolverine Press.
— Amanda Rybin Koob MFA '16
In 2014, as a special project to commemorate the occasion of Nicholas Delbanco's retirement, Wolverine Press set and printed one of Nick's earliest short stories, "Composition." Click here to read more about this process in a FWR interview with Press Director Fritz Swanson; below, a short film honoring Nick with footage of the Wolverine Press printing process.
Wolverine Press is located at 839 Greene Street, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Housed in the south end of the Buhr Building, next to the historic University of Michigan Press, and in the shadow of the Michigan Wolverine Stadium, the Press has operated since January of 2014. The printing press housed at Wolverine Press was purchased by the Zell Writers’ Program in 2014. It was built around the year 1900 by the Chandler & Price Company of Cleveland and was used by the Parma News Publishing Company until it was sold to Thomas Trumble, a farmer and former employee of Parma News.