Magazine article Tablet Magazine

The Mystery Poet on the Cover of Sgt. Pepper's

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

The Mystery Poet on the Cover of Sgt. Pepper's

Article excerpt

"If you're interested in experimental art and Jewish mysticism, you need to go out and investigate Wally Berman's work. But you'll have to do some digging to get to it," said late legendary Beat poet David Meltzer, concluding what turned out to be our last conversation. The weight of that moment stayed with me for the past two years, before an opportunity to follow through presented itself: I heard about an upcoming memoir by Wallace Berman's son, Tosh, and arranged a meeting. Before long, I've come to realize just how right Meltzer was. As it happens, I now also understand the mischievous smirk that accompanied his comment.

Inasmuch as it is possible to be both iconic and unknown, Wallace Berman embodied that unlikely contradiction. One of the 70 faces on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band cover (1967), he is not as easily recognizable as Marilyn Monroe, a tad over to the right. …

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