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Kenward Gray Elmslie Edit Profile

writer , Publishing company executive

Kenward Gray Elmslie, American Publishing company executive, writer. Recipient Frank O'Hara Poetry award O'Hara Foundation, 1971, Librettist award National Endowment for Arts, 1978 Librettist award Opera American, 1988, Cynthia Weir Librettist award, 1997; Ford Foundation grantee, 1965, 66. Member American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.


Born in New York City, Elmslie, a grandson of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, spent his childhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, prepped at the St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard in 1950 with a B.A. in literature.


Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University, 1950.


He began his career collaborating with composers on operas and musicals in an attempt to bring a contemporary style to classical theater. Among his theatrical works are The Grass Harp and Lola, both projects in collaboration with Claibe Richardson. His poetry and prose is often combined with the graphical work of other artists.

He was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts Award for and the Ford Foundation Grant. In 1973 Elmslie began work as editor and publisher of Z Magazine and Z Press, working to promote the work of other New York School artists such as John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, and perhaps most extensively, Joe Brainard. Elmslie’s work with graphic artists such as Brainard combined poetry with art to emphasis their interconnectedness.

His work in theatre demonstrates his commitment to art as a whole, not only to one medium. Poet Alice Notley says of Elmslie’s , “this is an icon, for me, of Elmslie’s work, its wild funniness, theatricality, brazenness, its love of art and objects”.


  • A collection of his writing, Motor Disturbance (1971), won the Frank O'Hara Award for Poetry in 1971.



Member American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.


William Gray Elmslie

Constance Helen (Pulitzer) Elmslie