DeGolyer Triennial Exhibition and Competition

2021 DeGolyer Bookbinding Competition

Helen Warren DeGolyer Competition in American Bookbinding: New Dates and Conference Update

Following a brief postponement, The Helen Warren DeGolyer Competition for American Bookbinding is, once again, underway. Entries for the competition are now due December 1, 2021 by 5PM CST.

The competition, held every three years, coincides with an in-person conference held at Bridwell Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The conference includes workshops, a lecture from the most recent Helen Warren DeGolyer Competition winner about their completed binding, an exhibition of all the entries, and the announcement of the award winners. The conference is now scheduled for May 19 and 20, 2022.

Please contact Jesse Hunt ( with any questions.

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Announcing the 2021 Helen Warren DeGolyer Bookbinding Competition at Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

American bookbinders are invited to propose a design binding for Five Poems by Toni Morrison, and to submit a completed binding of any work as an example of techniques they propose to use. Competition winners will be announced at the opening of the Helen Warren DeGolyer Exhibition for American Bookbinding at the conference on May 19 and 20, 2022. Proposals will be accepted until December 1, 2021. Please email Jesse Hunt for details about the competition book.

First poem from Toni Morrison's "Five Poems"

Five Poems represents Toni Morrison's only published verse, and each poem is accompanied by a silhouette by artist Kara Walker. The partnership of Morrison and Walker represents a unique collaboration between two extraordinary African American artists. The two artists never actually met, rather Walker responded to Morrison's words and ideas and interestingly Morrison did not revise or respond to the accompanying illustrations. 

Nobel Prize winner in Literature Toni Morrison (1931–2019), authored eleven novels including Beloved, Pulitzer Prize winner in 1988, and Song of Solomon, National Book Critics Circle Award winner in 1977. She was known for her prose and her exploration of the black experience, in particular black women. In addition to her novels, Morrison also published children's literature, essays, song lyrics, a play, and a libretto for the American opera, Margaret Garner. She was a longtime faculty member at Princeton before retiring in 2006, and lectured around the world. Toni Morrison was a champion for the arts, and spoke often about the power of the written word and the importance of fighting censorship.

Kara Walker (born 1969) is well-known for her cut-paper silhouettes depicting the tragic legacy of slavery. In addition, she utilizes drawing, painting, text, shadow puppetry, film, and sculpture to develop her historical narrative work. She was born in Stockton, California, and received her B.F.A. at the Atlanta College of Art and an M.F.A. at Rhode Island School of Design. Walker made her debut in New York in 1994 with her silhouettes cut from black paper, adhering them directly to the gallery wall. In 1997, Kara Walker was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, making her one of the youngest-ever recipients at twenty-eight.

Title page from Toni Morrison's "Five Poems"
Title page. Five Poems by Toni Morrison, silhouettes by Kara E. Walker, Rainmaker Editions, 2002. Helen Warren DeGolyer commission book, 2021.

Colophon from Toni Morrison's "Five Poems"
Colophon. Five Poems by Toni Morrison, silhouettes by Kara E. Walker, Rainmaker Editions, 2002. Helen Warren DeGolyer commission book, 2021.

Information about the competition book

Five Poems is published in a signed edition of 399 numbered and 26 lettered copies. This is copy number 79. The book was designed by Peter Rutledge Koch. It was printed letterpress from digital imaging and photo-polymer plates at Peter Koch, Printers in Berkeley, California. The typeface is Rialto Piccolo designed by Giovanni de Faccio and Lui Karner. The text paper is Rives BFK, tan. The copyright is held by Rainmaker Editions, 2002.

Additional information about the book and images of each page will be shared with bookbinders interested in applying for the competition. Five Poems is protected by copyright law, therefore the .PDF will only be shared individually, not posted on Bridwell Library's website.

Shown below are text block and spine measurements. 


text block measurements from Toni Morrison's "Five Poems"















Spine measurements from Toni Morrison's "Five Poems"














2021 Awards

Helen Warren DeGolyer Award for American Bookbinding
Awarded to a binder whose entry demonstrates the ability to create an exceptional binding for Five Poems.

  • $6000 commission

Award for Excellence in Fine Binding
Recognizes a completed binding distinguished by its structure, technique, and use of materials.

  • $2000 prize

Award for Design
Recognizes a design distinguished as an inventive, effective, and appropriate representation of Five Poems.

  • $1000 prize

2021 Competition

Helen Warren DeGolyer Award for American Bookbinding

The bookbinding competition will be open until December 1, 2021.

2022 Conference

The Helen Warren DeGolyer Bookbinding Conference

The conference is scheduled to be held on the campus of SMU in Dallas on May 19 and 20, 2022. Lectures and workshops led by noted binders and book artists will be offered.