New Directions Publishing

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New Directions Publishing
80 8th Avenue from the Port Authority building.gk.jpg
80 8th Avenue, headquarters of New Directions Publishing
Founder James Laughlin
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location New York City
Distribution W. W. Norton & Company
Key peoplev
Publication types Books
Fiction genres translation, experimental poetry
Official website

New Directions Publishing Corp. is an independent book publishing company that was founded in 1936 by James Laughlin and incorporated in 1964. Its offices are located at 80 Eighth Avenue in New York City.



New Directions was born in 1936 of Ezra Pound's advice to the young James Laughlin, then a Harvard University sophomore, to "do something useful" after finishing his studies at Harvard. [1] The first projects to come out of New Directions were anthologies of new writing, each titled New Directions in Poetry and Prose (until 1966's NDPP 19). Early writers incorporated in these anthologies include Dylan Thomas, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Thomas Merton, Denise Levertov, James Agee, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

New Directions later broadened their focus to include writing of all genres, representing not only American writing, but also a considerable amount of literature in translation from modernist authors around the world. New Directions also published the early work of many writers including Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, and Tennessee Williams was published as a poet for the very first time in a New Directions poetry collection.

Laughlin also initiated a number of thematic series and publications. The New Directions "Poet of the Month" series consisted of thin volumes of either lengthy individual poems or small collections of poems by one author were released on a monthly basis to subscribers, and a larger "Poet of the Year" volume was issued once annually. The series were discontinued after a few years. "Directions" began in 1941 as a quarterly soft-bound journal, with each edition dedicated to a single author or work in prose. Early issues included a collection of short stories by Vladimir Nabokov and a play by William Carlos Williams. The subscription model did not take hold, and later editions in the series were published in more traditional form and sold as individual works to the general public. Another short-lived New Directions periodical, Pharos, was discontinued after its fourth number was published in the winter of 1947.

Other notable undertakings include the New Classics and Modern Readers series, which reissued recent books that had gone out of print. These reprints included such works as Exiles and Stephen Hero by James Joyce and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. [2]

After Laughlin's death, New Directions Publishing became owned by a trust established in his will. [3]

Jacket design and colophon

After the time of World War II, New Directions developed a close relationship with the artist Alvin Lustig, who designed modernist abstract book jackets. Lustig was ultimately responsible for developing a distinctive style of dust jacket that served as a New Directions hallmark for many years.

The company's colophon is a figure of a centaur based upon a sculpture by Heinz Henghes, and usually appears on the spine of New Directions books.



In 1977, New Directions was presented with a Carey Thomas Award special citation for distinguished publishing in experimental literature. New Directions' authors have won numerous national and international awards, including the:

Nobel Prize [4]

  • Tomas Tranströmer, 2011
  • Octavio Paz, 1990
  • Camilo José Cela, 1989
  • Elias Canetti, 1981
  • Eugenio Montale, 1975
  • Pablo Neruda, 1971
  • Yasunari Kawabata, 1968
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, 1964
  • Saint-John Perse, 1960
  • Boris Pasternak, 1958
  • Andre Gide, 1947
  • Hermann Hesse, 1946
  • Frédéric Mistral, 1904

Pulitzer Prize [5]

  • Hilton Als, 2017
  • Gary Snyder, 1975
  • George Oppen, 1969
  • Richard Eberhart, 1966
  • William Carlos Williams, 1963
  • Tennessee Williams, 1948, 1955
  • Robert Penn Warren, 1947, 1958, 1979

National Book Award

  • Yoko Tawada, 2018
  • Nathaniel Mackey, 2006

MacArthur Foundation Fellowship [6]

  • John Keene, 2018
  • Peter Cole, 2007
  • Lydia Davis, 2003
  • Anne Carson, 2000
  • Guy Davenport, 1990
  • Allen Grossman, 1989
  • Walter Abish, 1987

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction [7]

  • Toby Olson, 1983

Prix Goncourt

  • Mathias Énard, 2015
  • Eugène Guillevic, 1988
  • Emile Ajar, 1975
  • Romain Gary, 1956

Man Booker International Prize

  • Laszlo Krasznahorkai / George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet, 2015

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

  • Jenny Erpenbeck / Susan Bernofsky, 2015

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize [8]

  • Denise Levertov, 1976

Bollingen Prize in American Poetry [9]

  • Nathaniel Mackey, 2015
  • Susan Howe, 2011
  • Allen Grossman, 2009
  • Robert Creeley, 1999
  • Gary Snyder, 1997
  • Robert Penn Warren, 1967
  • Robert Fitzgerald, 1961
  • Delmore Schwartz, 1960
  • Ezra Pound, 1948

Robert Frost Medal

  • Susan Howe, 2017
  • Kamau Brathwaite, 2015
  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 2003
  • Denise Levertov, 1999
  • James Laughlin, 1999
  • Robert Creeley, 1987

Windham-Campbell Literature Prize

  • John Keene, 2018
  • Hilton Als, 2016

Vilenica Kristal Prize [10]

  • Luljeta Lleshanaku, 2009

Current projects

The current focus of New Directions is threefold: discovering and introducing to the US contemporary international writers; publishing new and experimental American poetry and prose; and reissuing New Directions' classic titles in new editions.

Drawing from the tradition of the early anthologies and series, New Directions launched the Pearl series, which presents short works by New Directions writers in slim, minimalist volumes designed by Rodrigo Corral. Recent additions to the series include On Booze by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Leviathan by Joseph Roth. [6] New Directions also publishes a selection of academic reading guides to accompany a number of their books, including Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. [7]


New Directions was the first American publisher of such notables as Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, and Henry Miller. Today, their authors include:

American literature

Central American, South American, and Caribbean literature

British, Irish, Canadian, and Australian literature

European literature

Chinese and Japanese literature

Middle Eastern and Indian literature


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  2. "James Laughlin". Poetry Foundation. 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  3. Bustillos, Maria. "How Staying Small Helps New Directions Publish Great Books". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  4. "All Nobel Prizes in Literature". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  5. "Fiction". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  6. "MacArthur Fellows Program — MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  7. "Past Winners & Finalists". Archived from the original on 2013-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  8. aapone (1979-12-31). "Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize". Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize | Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  9. "Welcome | The Bollingen Prize for Poetry". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  10. Beletrina, Production. "Luljeta Lleshanaku | Versopolis". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  11. The Pisan Cantos, New York, New Directions, 1948 - 2003

Further reading