The Artistry of Loujon Press: Part 1

I wrote a piece for Pelican Bomb about Loujon Press in terms of its aesthetic achievements (and failures) as a fine-press/artistic publisher. Here’s an excerpt:

The short-lived but mighty Loujon Press has become a legend among New Orleans literary circles. Admired for its publication of prominent writers at the tail end of the Beat Generation and exalted as a model of DIY ethos for the Sisyphean feats of its rag-tag progenitors, Loujon has been the subject of a book and a film documentary, it was the dedicatee of the first New Orleans Book Fair, and its books and journals remain coveted treasures for archivists and collectors throughout the region.

As much as Loujon was esteemed in its day for the words on its pages, readers from the 1960s were often as struck by the craftsmanship and artistry of the publications. Husband-and-wife publishers Jon and Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb were equally concerned with editorial content and the aesthetic makeup of the objects they created. Contemporary literati who are aware of Loujon’s books and its The Outsider magazine but who have neglected to visit an archive and hold the printed pieces in their hands are woefully unaware of the complete Loujon experience. It is one thing to read Jeff Weddle’s outstanding biography Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press and nod in approval at the gamut of famous writers Loujon published—Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Langston Hughes, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones (now known as Amiri Baraka), and William S. Burroughs, among many others. It is quite another to slide the enormous cover off the handmade wooden box that contains Henry Miller’s Insomnia, or the Devil at Large and leaf through a dozen of the author’s watercolors before arriving at the book, couched in foam and glistening metallic.

Check out the rest of the piece at Pelican Bomb