GNAOUA, No. 1, edited by Ira Cohen
Tangier: Gnaoua Press, Spring 1964

First edition, perfect-bound in printed and illustrated wrappers, 5” x 8”, 104 pages, printed in Belgium. Designed by Rosalind Schwartz.

Poet, photographer, filmmaker, editor, and publisher Ira Cohen produced this one-shot magazine in Tangier in 1964. The title refers to an ethnic group originating in North and West Africa who eventually became part of the Sufi order in Morocco. In Cohen’s brief editorial statement, he notes that the magazine is named for the ecstatic dancing and possession trances of the North African sect of the same name, and concludes that “The object is exorcism”.

The magazine was in printed in Antwerp by Roger Binnemans and features striking cover art by Cohen’s then-girlfriend, the artist Rosalind Schwartz and features 5 black and white photographic plates illustrating Jack Smith’s “Superstars of Cinemaroc”, reproducing images from Smith’s infamous film Flaming Creatures (1963). Bob Dylan featured a copy of Gnaoua prominently on the cover of his fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home, among other artefacts chosen to pay tribute to the artist’s influences; it is possible that it was in Gnaoua that he first came across the work of William Burroughs.


    • William S. Burroughs – “Pry Yourself Loose and Listen”, “Notes on Page One”, “Ancient Face Gone Out”, “Just So Long and Long Enough” (M&M C68-71)
    • Ian Sommerville – “Mr & Mrs D”
    • Brion Gysin – “The Pipes of Pan”
    • Harold Norse – “Sniffing Keyholes”
    • Allen Ginsberg – “A Dream”
    • Michael McClure – “The Beast Sound: Nine Poems” (Clements C48)
    • J. Sheeper [Irving Rosenthal] – “Style”, “Drugs”, “Skin”, Rubies and Diamonds”, “An Army of Fat Black Doctors”
    • Jack Smith – “Superstars of Cinemaroc”
    • Marc Schleifer – “Goodbye, I Love You”
    • Mohammed Ben Abdullah Yussufi [translated by Irving Rosenthal] – “The Three Alis”, “The First Turban”, “The First Mirror”
    • J. Weir – “Poem”
    • Stuart Gordon – “Crab Hermits Develop Language; Shall It Freely Be?”
    • Allen Ginsberg – “A Writing”
    • Tatiana – “A Rock of Ectoplasm from Thunder Island”
    • Alfred Jarry [translated by George Andrews] – “The Other Alcestis”
    • Gnaoua Song [translated by Christopher Wanklyn]

References consulted:

Clements, Marshall. A CATALOG OF WORKS BY MICHAEL MCCLURE, 1956-1965
New York: The Phoenix Book Shop, 1965

Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1978. (ref. M&M)

Online resources:

· From a Secret Location – Gnaoua
· Reality Studio – Pry Yourself Loose and Listen