Allan Kornblum on February 16, 1949 in Manhattan. Kornblum enrolled in New York University before dropping out in the 1960s and moving to Iowa because he admired the poets at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. He tried to go back to college and attended the University of Iowa, but dropped out again. While in school in Iowa, Kornblum spent most of his time managing the school’s magazine, Toothpaste. In the 1970s, Kornblum continued to be the editor, publisher, and printer of Toothpaste magazine which became Toothpaste Press. The Press published chapbooks of poetry and books printed by hand on a letterpress.
Kornblum and his family moved to Minneapolis after over a decade spent in Iowa. There, he ran Toothpaste Press out of the Minneapolis Center for Book Arts. By 1984, Kornblum had changed the name to Coffee House Press in addition to making the company a nonprofit and expanding it by hiring more trade editors and using more modern printing methods. Finally in 2011, Kornblum relinquished the position of publisher and became the Senior Editor of Coffee House. Kornblum worked to seek out and develop new authors and writers who could not always get published at other companies, mainly women and people of color. Kornblum helped turn Coffee House Press into a formidable organization that became extraordinary in its own right. Allan Kornblum died on November 23, 2014 at the age of 65 due to complications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.