View Emory University's Raymond Danowski Poetry Library
Exhibit: Wallace Berman's Semina 1955-1964

The Semina Archive at Emory University's Raymond Danowski Poetry Library contains a full-run of all nine issues of Wallace Berman’s legendary publication, along with mail art, posters, and supporting books and periodicals.

Semina bridges appropriation, fine printing, punk-style DIY and collage/montage, this already in the late 1950s. Michael McClure called Semina “a scrapbook of the spirit.” Outside of commerce, it was sent through the mail to Wallace Berman’s friends like David Meltzer, William S. Burroughs, Alexander Trocchi, Allen Ginsberg, and Cameron. The components of Semina were not only submitted, but appropriated from these friends, alongside personal heroes like W. B. Yeats, Hermann Hesse, and Antonin Artaud.

Hand-printed on a table-top at his house, this free-form zine with its loose-leaf poetry and amazing collages, montages and photography, is also most baffling in its vanguard status: nobody had done anything like this before Berman, not even in the days of Dada. Michael Duncan points out that “Semina’s overarching theme involved a search for how to transcend the ‘monster’ of postwar meaninglessness.”

Published between 1955 and 1964 in editions ranging from 150 to 350 copies, this rare publication (original issues regularly sell in the five figures) needs to be seen and cherished by anyone interested in American post-war art.