Ed Sanders (born August 17, 1939) is an American poet, singer, social activist, environmentalist, author, publisher and longtime member of the band The Fugs. He has been called a bridge between the Beat and Hippie generations. Sanders is considered to have been active and "present at the counterculture's creation."
Sanders was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He dropped out of the University of Missouri in 1958 and hitchhiked to New York City's Greenwich Village to attend New York University. He graduated in 1964, with a degree in Greek.
Sanders wrote his first notable poem, "Poem from Jail", on toilet paper in his cell after being jailed for protesting the launch of nuclear submarines armed with nuclear missiles in 1961. In 1962, he founded the avant-garde journal Fuck You/A Magazine of the Arts. Sanders opened the Peace Eye Bookstore at 383 East Tenth Street in what was then the Lower East Side; the store became a gathering place for bohemians, writers and radicals. On January 1, 1966, police raided Peace Eye Bookstore and charged Sanders with obscenity, charges he fended off with the aid of the ACLU. Notoriety generated by the case led to his appearance on the February 17, 1967 cover of Life Magazine, which proclaimed him "a leader of New York's Other Culture."
In late 1964, Sanders founded The Fugs with Tuli Kupferberg. The band broke up in 1969 and reformed in 1984. On October 21, 1967, on the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam's March on the Pentagon, Sanders helped The Fugs and the San Francisco Diggers in an attempt to "exorcise" The Pentagon. In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
In 1971, Sanders wrote The Family, a profile of the events leading up to the Tate-LaBianca murders. He attended the Manson group's murder trial, and spent time at their residence at the Spahn Movie Ranch. There have been two updated editions of The Family, the most recent in 2002. The Process Church of the Final Judgement sued Sanders's U.S. publisher for defamation over a chapter linking them with Manson's activities. The case was settled by the publisher, who removed the disputed chapter from future editions. The Process Church then sued Sanders's British publisher, but lost the suit and were forced to pay the defendant's legal fees.
Sanders is the founder of the Investigative Poetry movement. His 1976 manifesto Investigative Poetry, published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books, had an impact on investigative writing and poetry during the ensuing decades. In the 1990s, Sanders began utilizing the principles of Investigative Poetry to create a series of book-length poems on literary figures and American History. Among these works are Chekhov, 1968: A History in Verse, and The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg. In 1998, Sanders began work on a 9-volume America, A History in Verse. The first five volumes, tracing the history of the 20th century, were published in a CD format with over 2,000 pages in length.
Sanders received a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry in 1983, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry in 1987. His Thirsting for Peace in a Raging Century, Selected Poems 1961–1985 won an American Book Award in 1988. He was chosen to deliver the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures at SUNY Buffalo in 1983. In 1997, he received a Writers Community residency sponsored by the YMCA National Writer's Voice through the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund.
In 1997 he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. In 2000 and 2003 he was Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute in Albany, New York.
Sanders lives in Woodstock, New York, where he publishes the online Woodstock Journal with his wife of over 47 years, the writer and painter Miriam R. Sanders. He also invents musical instruments, including the Talking Tie, the microtonal Microlyre, and the Lisa Lyre, a musical contraption involving light-activated switches and a reproduction of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
- Poem from Jail, San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1963
- Peace Eye (1966)
- Shards of God (1970)
- The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion (1971, New Edition, 1990)
- Egyptian Hieroglyphics (1973)
- Tales of Beatnik Glory, Volume 1 (1975)
- Investigative Poetry (1976)
- 20,000 A.D. (1976)
- Fame & Love in New York (1980)
- The Z-D Generation (1981)
- The Cutting Prow (1983)
- Hymn to Maple Syrup & Other Poems (1985)
- Thirsting for Peace in a Raging Century: Selected Poems 1961–1985 (1987)
- Poems for Robin (1987)
- Tales of Beatnik Glory, Volumes 1 & 2 (1990) New York: Citadel Underground. ISBN 978-0-8065-1172-6
- Hymn to the Rebel Cafe (1993)
- Chekhov (1995)
- 1968: A History in Verse (1997)
- America, A History in Verse, Vol. 1 (1900–1939) (2000)
- The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg, The Overlook Press (2000)
- America, A History in Verse, Vol. 2 (1940–1961) (2001)
- America, A History in Verse, Vol. 3 (1962–1970) (2004)
- "Poems for New Orleans" (2004)
- "Edward Sanders | Glyphs" The Brother in Elysium (2011)
- Ed Sanders (December 13, 2011). Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81943-8.
Selected solo discography
- Sanders' Truckstop 1969
- Beer Cans on the Moon 1972
- Yiddish-speaking socialist of the Lower East Side 1991
- Songs in ancient Greek 1992
- American Bard 1996
- Thirsting for Peace 2005
- Poems for New Orleans 2007
Discography with the Fugs
- See Fugs Discography
- Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (pbk)
- Ratliff, Ben (2012-01-11). "Present at the Counterculture's Creation". nytimes.com. The New York Times Co. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- "The History of the Fugs 1964–65". Retrieved June 6, 2011.
- "Life Magazine Cover February 17, 1967". Life Magazine. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
- Web article from americanheritage.com
- "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" January 30, 1968 New York Post
- Amazon book listing
- Timothy Wyllie (2009). Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932595-37-6.
- Works by or about Ed Sanders in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- The Woodstock Journal
- Photo Ed Sanders Performing With The Fugs, NYC, 1967 by Michael Maggid
- Feature on Ed Sanders from Paste Magazine by Matt Fink.