Contact Press (1952-67) was founded as a poets' co-operative by Louis DUDEK, Raymond SOUSTER and Irving LAYTON, who were generally dissatisfied with the slight opportunities for publication available to Canadian poets. Contact went on, in the course of its 15-year history, to become the most important SMALL PRESS of its time. Launched at the mid-century, it published all the major Canadian poets of the period, and transformed literary life and small-press activity in Canada by its openness to a variety of poetic styles and its assertiveness of the poet's role in the production of his own work. Beginning before subsidies and government aid to Canadian BOOK PUBLISHING had become a mainstay of such activity, Contact was a self-financed act of faith on the part of its founders.
While its main thrust was in publishing the new work of individual poets, it produced a milestone anthology, Canadian Poems 1850-1952, co-edited by Dudek and Layton in 1952, and an avant-garde manifesto of young poets published as New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry (1966). This was a successor to Souster's Poets 56, which had featured young poets in response to Dudek's query "Où sont les jeunes?"
Essentially a "no-frills" press, Contact published handsome, workmanlike books with, on occasion, a mimeographed pamphlet. Its writers ranged from F.R. SCOTT, one of the early moderns, to the newest wave represented by Margaret ATWOOD, George BOWERING and John NEWLOVE.