Totem Press, Yugen – Imamu Amiri Baraka

1960s: Days of Rage

Charles Olson, Projective Verse (1959). Cover by Matsumi Kanemitsu.

On the same small offset press, and as an arm of his magazine Yugen, LeRoi Jones’s Totem Press imprint published thirteen pamphlets, beginning with Diane di Prima’s This Kind of Bird Flies Backward in 1958. The press also published work by Ron Loewinsohn (Watermelons, 1959), Michael McClure (For Artaud, 1959), and Jack Kerouac (The Scripture of the Golden Eternity, 1961), as well as Charles Olson’s influential and much-admired Projective Verse in 1959 and Paul Blackburn’s Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit in 1960. However, the most important (at least to Jones himself) of the Totem Books was the little six-page pamphlet he edited in 1959 as the second book of the press. Entitled Jan 1st 1959: Fidel Castro, it included poems by Joel Oppenheimer, Max Finstein, Gilbert Sorrentino, Ron Loewinsohn, and Jack Kerouac in addition…

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