Graywolf Press was founded in 1974 in Port Townsend, Washington, as a publisher of hand-sewn poetry chapbooks. With encouragement from the Twin Cities philanthropic community, Graywolf moved to Minnesota in 1985, where it expanded its offerings to also include fiction and nonfiction. In 1994, Graywolf hired Fiona McCrae as its new director and publisher, and she has guided its authors to new heights. In 2002, the highly regarded publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux began distributing Graywolf books. Elizabeth Alexander read her poem “Praise Song for the Day” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. Poet Tomas Tranströmer (The Half-Finished Heaven) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2011, and the next year Tracy K. Smith became our first author to win the Pulitzer Prize, for Life on Mars. In 2016, we inaugurated our Citizen Literary Initiative, designed to publish more diverse books, reach an increasingly diverse readership, and emphasize diversity at the board and staff levels. When the press celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary in 2019, Graywolf had become one of the nation’s leading nonprofit publishers. We remain dedicated to discovering and championing visionary literature by local, national, and international authors, many of whom are from underrepresented communities.
Graywolf Press publishes books and produces author programming in an effort to introduce new ideas and fresh language to readers and our broader culture. Our goal is to support and amplify a wide range of stories (and the people who tell them) because we believe they are an essential way to understand contemporary life. Through our publishing program, we hope to inspire people to be self-reflective, creative, and compassionately engaged with others regardless of their cultural origins.
Graywolf publishes around thirty books a year, divided equally between poetry, literary fiction, and nonfiction. About six books annually are in translation. When considering some of the thousands of manuscripts that are submitted, our editors look for singular writing that conveys a distinct and original vision. Our focus is on contemporary writers who are engaged through their art with both the universal human questions and urgent issues of our time.
Annual budget: $5 million – Earned Income, Foundations, Individual Contributions, Government Grants or Contracts
Graywolf Press is seeking board members with skills in the following areas:
- Board Governance
- Financial Management
The publication of Citizen by Claudia Rankine in 2014 was a landmark occasion for Graywolf Press, reinforcing the importance of valuing diversity in society overall and in the publishing world. The board governance committee, tasked with recruitment, prioritizes diversity when considering the cultivation of new members. This is an essential part of building a more equitable society.
In 2020-21 Graywolf is looking to recruit a more diverse membership whose skills and interests may include fundraising/philanthropy and fostering engagement with new audiences. (People with other skills and interests are also encouraged to reach out to staff.)
- Number of members currently: 20
- Meeting time and frequency: 5 meetings annually
- Meeting location: Minneapolis
- Time Expectation: Up to 10 hours/month
- Financial Contribution Expected: Yes
- Service on Committee Required: Yes
- Length of Term: Two consecutive 3-year terms
- Renewable: Yes
- Does nonprofit carry liability insurance? Yes
- All members are expected to attend meetings of the full board and participate in the work of their assigned committee.
- They are also expected to participate in fundraising and advocacy, attend Graywolf events and readings, occasionally host events, and read Graywolf titles.
- Graywolf board members should also give what is, for them, a significant annual financial donation. This contribution can be made as a one-time donation each year, or may be pledged to give in installments throughout the year.
- Graywolf board members are encouraged to give a minimum annual contribution of $6,000 to support the work of the Press. It is understood that some board members may not be able to make this minimum financial commitment, but will contribute to Graywolf in other ways.
- In addition, Graywolf undertakes strategic fundraising campaigns from time to time. During such campaigns, board members are asked to make a multi-year commitment that is significant to them.