Notes: The uncommon second issue of Wallace Berman's influential underground periodical.
"Berman's hand-printed, personally distributed literary journal, Semina, stands as an iconic document of its time... An eccentric and lyrical primer of the early counterculture, assembled against the grain of conformist Eisenhower-era America, it circumscribes a world of self-exploration, cultural alienation, esthetic indulgence, communal comforts, and spiritual transcendence"—Michael Duncan, Semina Culture, p. 9.
Most of the pieces in this issue are printed letterpress, "handset with miscellaneous available type & papers." The illustrations are mostly halftones, probably printed using offset lithography. The contributors include Charles Bukowski ("Mine"), Herman Hesse, Paul Eluard, Jean Cocteau, Michael (as Mike) McClure, Zack Walsh, J.B. May, Charles Baudelaire, Lynn Trocchi, and Pantale Xantos (a pseudonym of Berman). The images include two reproductions of photographs by Berman of Robert Alexander shooting heroin, manipulated photographs by Lewis Carroll, and Walter Hopps' image of a dead shark. The cover is a portrait of Suzi Hicks by Charles Brittin.
Berman completed nine issues of Semina; all of which are uncommon, with print runs in the low hundreds of copies and mostly distributed by mail to contributors and friends. This second issue was the last produced in Los Angeles (see Semina Culture, p. 52), but many copies may have been distributed from San Francisco, where Berman moved in December 1957 after he was convicted on obscenity charges for displaying a pornographic image at an LA art show earlier in the year. This change of location seems to have resulted in two states of Semina Two, one with a notice that Berman will continue working "from locations other than this city of degenerate angels" and one without the notice. The priority is uncertain.
 unprinted leaves with mounted poems and images, plus cardstock covers.
Edition + Condition: A very nice copy, one of the nicest I've seen, without the usual stains and wear. This is the variant without the "degenerate angels" notice on the back cover.
Copies of Semina Two vary somewhat in the order and exact contents of the periodical. A study of these variants would show if Berman prepared the sheets and then bound the book or if he pasted the text and images into staple-bound blank books.
This copy collates with contributors in the following order: Cover photo of Suzi Hicks; blank inside front cover with handwritten letter "R" at upper left (usually seen blank); Hermann Hesse; Paul Eluard; Jack Anderson; Mike [Michael] McClure; Jean Cocteau; Zack Walsh; Eric Cashen; Pantale Xantos [a.k.a.Wallace Berman]; [Wallace Berman photos (2)]; J. B. May; Charles Baudelaire translated by Hyman Lopez; Lynn Trocchi; Idell T. Romero; Charles Bukowski; Peder Carr; W. Hopps (photo); Alexander Trocchi; Judson Crews; John Reed; Marion Grogan; Paul Valery translated by R. Rand; Lewis Carroll [manipulated photographs (2)]; David Meltzer; John Altoon [fold-out reproduction of drawing signed J. Altoon in red ink in on the verso (sometimes signed in pencil)]; Marcia Jacobs [a.k.a. Berman]; Cameron; Rabindranath Tagore; Wallace Berman; cover credit handwritten in red ink; "handset..." notice in type (inside back cover order also seen reversed; cover credit sometimes seen set in type); back cover blank (sometimes seen with "degenerate angels" text).
Publication: [Los Angeles]: [Wallace Berman], .
Item No: #305347