Aileron Press

Albert Huffstickler, or “Huff” as he was often known,[1] was as iconic to Austin’s creative history as the movie Slacker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Austin City Limits stage. That might seem an exaggeration, especially since many Austinites might not recognize his name. But Huff was a staple of the Austin poetry scene throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and became known as the “Bard of Hyde Park” because he was often lounging and smoking (and sometimes writing) at Hyde Park businesses such as Quack’s Bakery and the now-shuttered café Dolce Vida.[2][3] He also worked at the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL), a job that inspired more than a few satirical poems.[4] See his chapbook The Talkin’ PCL Blues, which is described in our library catalog as “poems and sketches relating to the work and personalities of the Perry-Casteñeda Library.”[5]

In the 80s and 90s, Huff often used the photocopier at the Hyde Park grocery store Fresh Plus to create his own chapbooks, which were small staple-bound booklets.[6] Huff released his prolific chapbooks under his self-run Press of Circumstance, alongside full-length collections from more established presses.[7] This example from 1985, Night Diner, was published by L’Ecole Whitman/Aileron Press, an Austin poetry press active in the 1980s. Night Diner is an excellent example of Huff’s work, which centers on themes of the loneliness and struggles of working-class men and the consequences of not achieving the American Dream.

Another notable poet published by Aileron Press was Michael Gilmore. He is a curious example of an Austin poet who bridges two distinct eras. Along with Huffstickler, David Jewell, and John Herndon, he started publishing poetry chapbooks in Austin in the 1980s and was active with Aileron Press. He left Austin for nearly 30 years and returned in 2013. He now works at the Harry Ransom Center at UT and continues to write poetry.[8] Gilmore’s Lyrika was his first chapbook, published by Aileron in 1981. This is not the first UT Libraries exhibit to feature Lyrika—it was highlighted, along with Huffstickler’s Night Diner, at a 1986 exhibition at the PCL.[9]


[1] Holloway-Reeves, Brett. “The Life and Times of an Emotional Transient.” The Austin Chronicle. March 28, 1997. Find it at the UT Libraries.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Cota, Mitch William. Lone Star ImPRESSions: A History of Small Press in Texas. (Austin: University of Texas at Austin, 2017), 15.
[4] Ibid., 15.
[5] Huffstickler, Albert. The Talkin’ PCL Blues. Special limited edition “retirement” collection. Austin, Texas: sn, 1991. Find it at the UT Libraries.
[6] Cota. Lone Star, 15.
[7] Ibid., 15.
[8] Kessenich, Marissa. “Meet the Staff: Q&A with Visual Materials Assistant Michael Gilmore.” Online magazine. Ransom Center Magazine, December 12, 2016.
[9] “Exhibition on Poetry In and Of Texas.” The Library Chronicle of the University of Texas at Austin, no. 35 (1986): 16–17. Find it at the UT Libraries.