These two display cases contain a cross-section of little magazines representing both East Coast and West Coast publications. Each magazine was rapidly assembled, inexpensive, and created for the purpose of quickly disseminating information to a vibrant art community anxious to read what was new. The art and writing featured in little magazines were not exclusive to the Beat community; writers and artists of all orientations could submit their work. Not designed as profit-making publications, little magazines frequently relied on donations and were at times given away at no charge to readers. The circulation was sporadic; editors often mailed little magazines, like Floating Bear, to writers they knew, as well as anyone who expressed interest.
Writers from both coasts were featured in the hundreds of different magazines that flourished between the 1950sand 1970s. This extraordinary outpouring echoed the camaraderie and desire for greater communication that intensified when East Coast and West Coast Beats met at the Six Gallery reading on October 7, 1955. The resulting mix of styles and subjects that took place on the pages of little magazines did not diminish the individuality of the writers. On the contrary, editors—who were often also contributors—prized the distinct, original, and unique voices that animated the artistic world they were helping bring into existence. Each little magazine was itself an artistic creation with its own balance of writing and visual art. Editors frequently operated on a shoe string and utilized whatever means at their disposal, from mimeograph machines to letter presses, and they printed on a variety of surfaces that were often cheap and easily available, including colored card stock.
East Coast Little Didactics:
Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, was published and edited by Ed Sanders from 1962-1965, and proudly proclaimed its “purpose to shock.” In speaking of its content, Sanders said, “I will publish anything.” This issue features Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg.
Yugen, published between 1958-1962, was one of New York City’s earliest little magazines and was one of the most popular. Editor LeRoi Jones sought out “anew consciousness in arts and letters.” This issue features Allen Ginsberg and Diane di Prima.
The Floating Bear, named for Winnie-the-Pooh’s boat made of a honey pot, was a mimeographed “newsletter” edited by Diane di Prima and LeRoi Jones. Circulated between 1961 and 1971, it was an extremely prolific publication, sending out twenty-five issues in the first two years. This issue features Diane di Prima and printed Wallace Berman’s Untitled on the cover.
West Coast Little Didactics:
Open Space was edited by Stan Persky from January 1964 to December 1964, featuring artwork from artists like Jess Collins, Graham Mackintosh, and Fran Herndon. The unusual artwork coupled with the writings created a “curious mixture of humor and high literary seriousness” as illustrated when the editors used the weirdly revolting phrase “creamed cottage cheese” to describe the Six Gallery reading. This issue features Allen Ginsberg.
Bastard Angel was edited by Harold Norse from 1972 to 1974. It featured shocking and thought-provoking artwork in addition to Beat writing. This issue features Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
Beatitude was published from 1959 to 1987 by a combination of editors. According to Bob Kaufman, one of the editors, it was created to “extol beauty” and “promote the beatific life.” This handwritten note, found within the front cover of Beatitude25, represents the intimacy shared among members of the Beat community:
Well; here it is! Am real pleased with it. Think, ultimately, its a real strong issue. Time, I guess, will tell----your poem, fantastic! Lots of positive reactions to it----Thanks, it’s an important asset to the mag. as a whole. Festival getting too close, but moving toward 2 good nites---will be in touch.
This issue features Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Diane di Prima.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Wallace Berman, Jack Kerouac, poetry, exhibit
Arts and Humanities
Searle, Erin; Crane, Terin; and Duve, Brecken, "Little Magazines" (2019). ENGL 4310 – Heart Beats Exhibit. 8.