Tetrad Press Collection

Ref: Special Collection
Title: Tetrad Press Collection

Scope: A developing collection of artist and writer Ian Tyson’s works from his own private press.
Dates: c. 1969-1995
Extent: over 40 vols

Tetrad 1

Jackson Mac Low. 23rd light poem for Larry Eigner. London : Tetrad Press, 1969.


Administrative/biographical history:

The Tetrad Press Collection forms an important part of the Private Presses Collection and was the first major private press to be included outside of the core collection. Ian Tyson, the founder of Tetrad, has been instrumental in the development of this collection by donating some of its most important works.

The innovative Tetrad Press was founded in 1969 and closed in 1995. The Tetrad Collection is represented so far by over forty of its titles, including one of the first works it published, Tom Phillips’s A Humument (1970). Important literary works by Jerome Rothenberg, Larry Eigner and Jackson Mac Low, amongst other notable poets, have their words augmented by the striking vibrancy of Tyson’s artwork. Tyson always liked to work with young poets who were just beginning to make their mark and were largely unknown.


Tetrad 2

Jerome Rothenberg. Six gematria. Images by Ian Tyson. London : Tetrad Press, 1992.


What emerges from a close study of the working methods of artist/press owners such as Ian Tyson and Ronald King of Circle Press is the spirit of collaboration between them and other artists and poets. Simply put, words and pictures combine to add another interpretive dimension to the works. This method is particularly compelling in Tyson’s ongoing collaboration with Jerome Rothenberg and his ethnopoetic works which are designed to be read aloud. Tyson’s artwork picks up on linguistic patterns and interprets sounds into colours.

Ian Tyson closed Tetrad Press in 1995 because he felt he had gone as far as he wanted to with it. Shortly after Tetrad closed, he began a new press, ed.it. Please see the ed.it description page, and the separate listing.


Tetrad 3Tetrad 4

Tetrad 6

Jerome Rothenberg, Richard Johnny John, Ian Tyson. Three friendly warnings from Songs for the Society of Mystic Animals. London : Tetrad Press, 1973.



  • Related collections: ed.it Archive, The Ron & Willow King Collection of Ian Tyson Editions and Artwork, Circle Press Collection, Private Presses Collection, Small Press Poetry Collection
  • Source: By donation and purchase from various sources
  • System of arrangement: Numerical
  • Subjects: Artists’ Books; Poetry – 20th century
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: No restrictions
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed and catalogued