A complete run of this pinnacle Beatnik journal.
COHEN, Hettie; LeRoi Jones, Eds. Yugen: A New Consciousness in Arts and Letters. A complete run in 8 issues. New York: Troubador Press; Totem Press, 1958-1962.
8 vols, 8vo (5.5 x 8.5" approx); original printed card wraps, pp. 24; 24; 24; 28; 40; 52; 66; 66; all housed in a custom-made black clamshell case with leather label; all copies near-fine; issue 8 has a circular Library stamp of Knox College Library to the upper cover; some very slight darkening and rubbing to the covers, and the odd very small crease to pages; else exceptionally clean, and rare as a complete set.
Yugen was founded in 1958 by LeRoi Jones and Hettie Cohen, and was produced with the aim of promoting certain writers and poets who had been so far overlooked in mainstream and academic publications. Jones claimed that "nothing was happening on the poetry scene as it should be so I started publishing.” In many ways, it became known as an outlet for Beat writers, and over the next four years published writings by almost all of the famous names: Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac and Diane Di Prima, amongst many others. It was also extremely important historically for promoting the 'Black Mountain' writers, among which we find Charles Olson, Robert Creeley and Joel Oppenheimer. The magazine concluded with its eighth issue in 1962, but by this time Jones and Cohen had achieved their goal, with many of the writers appearing nationwide in other mainstream publications.
Attention must be drawn to the contribution of Hettie Cohen in this partnership. Issues 1-3 rank her name alongside that of her husbands, as editor, whereas later issues 4-8 change this to 'assistant editor'. We must question why such a change was made, given that Cohen was responsible for the bulk of the work which went in to making up the entire publication. Hettie did the pasting up and collating from her kitchen table, but it was Jones who received the international media attention, being as he was, a member in good standing of the Beat Generation. However as an editor of the Partisan Review, Cohen possessed the inumerable experience in editing, designing, and collating, and all of these skills were utilised in producing the magazine, as outlined in her later published biography, How I Became Hettie Jones, a First Edition copy of which is included with this collection. The memoir tells of her perspective during the 50s and 60s, and also highlights her personal struggles in an effort to find her own identity, as she was labeled as both an outcast of her Jewish family, and the wife of a black artist during the Civil Rights Movement.
William S. Burroughs appears in two issues: 3 and 8. His first contribution, Have you seen Pantapon Rose? is remeniscent of The Naked Lunch, while the latter is an essay on his famous 'Cut Up' method. Yugen was pivotal for Burroughs in developing his style, and the magazine provided exposure during a crucial period in his writing. By the last issue, this style is more confident, as he has become a spokesman for the technique. As one reviewer puts it: "In issue three, Burroughs benefits tremendously by appearing in Yugen. In issue eight, Yugen benefits tremendously by featuring Burroughs. Between the two issues, Burroughs went from literary unknown to an international cult figure." Issue 6 of the magazine also includes Kerouac’s “Rimbaud” before it was published as a broadside by City Lights.