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The Ed Sanders Archive

Writing & Projects

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Glyphs

Ed Sanders began studying Egyptian hieroglyphics in the early 1960s. By 1962, he was sight-reading the coffins at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eventually, he developed his own idiocyncratic glyphic alphabet of hand-drawn elements, symbols, and characters. That growing alphabet would become integrated into all aspects of his work throughout his life. Sanders says, “a Glyph is a drawing that is charged with literary, emotional, historical or mythic, and poetic intensity” (Edward Sanders, A Book of Glyphs. Granary Books, 2014). Spring binders collect his glyph works, starting in 1962, but glyphs are found in all parts of the archive.

Included in The Ed Sanders Archive are items (many framed) that were recently exhibited in “Seeking the Glyph: Edward Sanders” at Poets House, curated by Ammiel Alcalay and Kendra Sullivan.

The following are contained in the spring binder labeled “Glyphs, vol. 1: 1962–1992.”

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Ed Sanders, “Hommage [sic] to the Book Boat.” Collaged elements on page. Signed by Sanders, 1982.

 

Ed Sanders, “Eyes for Harry Smith.” Written for the Harry Smith Memorial, February 1992, at St. Mark’s Church.

The poem recollects the first time that Ed Sanders and Harry Smith met at Stanley’s Bar in 1962. Harry admired Ed’s “Eyes of Horus” he had painted on his white gym socks.

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Ed Sanders, “Find a Sequence of Words,” n.d. Original text and glyphic drawings by Ed Sanders.

 

Original text and glyphic drawings by Ed Sanders, 1982.

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“Oh yeah.” Original text and glyphic drawings prepared at the d.a. levy Festival, October 1988. Signed by Sanders.

 

Ed Sanders, “617-283-2781 / Charles Olson’s phone number / July 1969 / oh I wish I’d called him that day.” Original text and glyphic drawings.

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Ed Sanders, “Thirty Pennies on E.A. Poe’s Stone.” Original text and glyphic drawing on a file folder, 1989(?).

 

Ed Sanders, “Cutting Pulse Lyre Finger-Slats,” 1981. Cut-out wood element pasted on page. Signed by Ed Sanders.

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Ed Sanders, “Ramamir.” Typescript with colored pencil, signed, 1978–79. On verso: “8-22 / 8-23 / 8-24 / 9/1 1978 w/ tears a-running / Woodstock / 6-23-79 / 6/24/79 again w/ tears a-running / improvements / at the ’Ermitage in L.A.”

 

Ed Sanders, [“Sappho”], 1978. Ink, colored pencil and collaged element. Signed by Sanders.

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Musical Instruments: The Electronic Bard System (EBS)

Ed Sanders began making musical instruments with synthesizers in 1968 after purchasing a Stylophone synthesizer. In 1978, at the encouragement of Allen Ginsberg, he invented small electronic musical instruments, which he called the Electronic Bard System, to facilitate his recitation of poetry. Since then, from time to time, the instruments have accompanied Sanders’ poetry readings. In addition to a history of the EBS, the archive includes the instruments themselves: Pulse Lyre I (1978), Pulse Lyre II (1980), Real Lyre (1980s), Talking Tie I (1981), Talking Tie II (1982), Light Lyre I (1982), Light Lyre II (1983), Singing Quilting Frame (1986), Bowl Lyre (1987), Sumi Box Theremin (1980s), and Microlyre (1990).

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Left: Circuit design for the Singing Quilting Frame.

Above: The Singing Quilting Frame uses an array of infra-red beam-emitters and photo-diode switching mechanisms housed in a quilting frame to create its sound. Photographed in Ed Sanders’ Woodstock backyard.

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Ed Sanders wearing the Pulse Lyre, ca. 1981.

 

The Pulse Lyre utilizes metal keying arrays on the fingers of garden gloves.

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Ed Sanders wearing his Talking Tie, which uses a pressure-sensing switching membrane leading to a synthesizer.

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Ed Sanders and his Lisa Lyre.

The Lisa Lyre creates sound by shining a small light on various points of a Mona Lisa canvas.

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Beams of light intercepted by fingers trigger synthesizer notes on the Light Lyre.

 

Sanders built a theremin into a Sumi painting box to create the Sumi Theremin.

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Sanders created the microtonal Microlyre, a keyboard (31 notes to the octave) with a curved keying surface that enables one hand to hit a 31-note octave.

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Box P-1 Poetry notes, drafts and poetry book projects 1960s

Ed Sanders has been writing poetry continuously since he was a teenager in Missouri in 1958. The archive is a complete record of his prolific output and includes notes, drafts, poetry manuscripts, and book projects. Ed has maintained a chronologic record of his poetry from 1955 through 2014 in a series of 54 spring binders (with over 8,300 pages) with both published and unpublished poetry manuscripts. There are also 7 3-ring binders and 2 archival boxes with his poetry and poetry-related projects. Additionally, Ed has organized eight boxes into a “Poetry Projects, Drafts, Poetry Book Projects 1960s–2000s” series.

The following items are from “Box P-1 Poetry notes, drafts and poetry book projects 1960s” in that series.

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20 unlined index cards, some with writing on both sides with notes for a poem on “Eleusinian Mysteries,” 1965.

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Above: Ed Sanders, first page of a six-page handwritten manuscript, “Poem for My Father: Alive & Well in Kansas City this Nov 4 1966.”

Right: Ed Sanders, “Note for Poem from Jail,” 1962. Sanders has noted on the folder, “written on a cigar box paper 42nd & Broadway.”

 

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Ed Sanders, “Sappho My Darling,” 1965. A song written on the back of Peter and Linda Schjeldahl’s birthday card sent to Ed Sanders.

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Ed Sanders, “Chorus’s [sic] from Cock City,” 1963.

“These are the words accompanying the scene in my movie Cock City, where Al Fowler is snuffed in a dope shoot by the O D Centipede, & then carried by the priest to Battery Park where he is placed on a burning Death Barque & floated out toward Staten Island.”

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Ed Sanders, “The Will & Death Instructions of Ed Sanders,” 1967. First page of a three-page photocopy.

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The Manson Family

Ed Sanders’ The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion is not only a classic of true-crime fiction, but also the “culmination and a watershed for Sanders, as Manson had shattered illusions about the natural goodness of the new youth and exposed the limitations of Yippie ‘Free’” (George F. Butterick, “Ed Sanders,” in The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America, ed. Ann Charters, 1983). The book was the first authoritative telling of the Charles Manson saga. It is “an amalgam of rhetorical and stylistic strategies—Sanders's personal, hybrid record not only of the Manson saga but of his own mission as counterculture detective” (Thomas Myers, “Rerunning the Creepy-Crawl: Ed Sanders and Charles Manson.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, vol.19, no. 1, Spr. 1999). It would also lead Sanders to his seminal and influential manifesto on “Investigative Poetry.”

The items in the archive have been called “the largest collection of Manson archival material in the world—even more, allegedly, than the sum of the Los Angeles Police Department’s storehouses” (Tom Folsom, “Meet Ed Sanders, the World's Biggest Charles Manson Buff.” Bullett. July 3, 2012. Web. 30 Dec. 2015).

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Ed Sanders’ Los Angeles Free Press card, 1970.

After securing a book contract, Sanders arranged to cover the Manson trial for the underground Los Angeles Free Press by writing weekly columns from May to November, 1970. Writing for the paper gave Sanders access to the Manson Family trial. The press card is signed by Sanders and the Freep’s editor and publisher, Arthur G. Kunkin.

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Ad placed in the Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1969, by Roman Polanski and friends.

The Los Angeles Times ad offered a $25,000 reward for information “leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer or murderers of Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and the other four victims.” Over 45 years later, Sanders would revisit the Tate murders in much more depth in his 2016 book, Sharon Tate: A Life.

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Manuscript page from the The Family with handwritten corrections, notes and glyph.

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Left: Photo from the police raid at Spahn Movie Ranch, on the edge of the San Fernando Valley, where the Manson Family lived before the Tate-LaBianca murders. Right (back of photo): 2 Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) officers of L.A. Sheriff’s office pose above ripped-off biker’s jacket (Straight Satan) 8/16/69,” in the hand of Ed Sanders.(?)

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Above (front and back of photo): “8/16/69 George Spahn sitting quietly at 6:16 a.m. in front of the root beer clock above the Roman Scandals poster. In his ranch house Spahn Movie Ranch.”

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Drawing and text by convicted Manson Family member Susan Atkins on yellow legal paper made during her 1971 death penalty deliberations.

 

First of two-page “My Last Will and Judgment” written by Charles Manson during his 1971 death penalty deliberations.

“I give to man what he deserves him slif [sic] and what he has done to others shall be done to him. To live alone with himslif [sic] forever & ever no death or releafe [sic] from his own misury [sic].”

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Hand-stitched shirt from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme given by Fromme to Ed as a gift.

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Postcard from Charles Manson to Ed Sanders, with writing on both sides.

Ed Sanders has noted: “A friendly greeting card from Manson to the author around Christmas time 1988. Note the swastika on the tongue.”

 

First page of a six-page handwritten letter from Charles Manson to Ed Sanders, April 24, 1989.

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The Olson Memorial Lectures, 1983

Over a 3-day period in 1983, Ed delivered the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures at State University of New York at Buffalo. Part one, “Trompoeia, Retentia & Perf-Po,” was delivered on March 8. Part two, “Emotive Typography,” was delivered on March 10. Part three, “The O-Boat,” was delivered on March 15. Ed maintained his original lecture notes, complete with corrections and drawings in a 3-ring binder (approx. 200 pages). The significance and insight offered in these lectures by one of Charles Olson’s closest friends can not be underestimated.

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Ed Sanders, first two pages of the table of contents for Ed’s Olson Memorial Lecture, 1983.

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Ed Sanders, “Preamble to Lecture One: The Limber-Limbic,” the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures, 1983.

 

Ed Sanders, first page of “Phanopoeia” from the first lecture, “Trompoeia, Retentia & Perf-Po,” the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures, 1983.

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Ed Sanders, first page of “Melopeia” from the first lecture, “Trompoeia, Retentia & Perf-Po,” the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures, 1983.

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Ed Sanders, first two pages of “Emotive Typography,” the Olson Memorial Lectures, 1983.

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