How Ed Sanders, A Peace-Loving Poet, Wrote the Definitive Account of The Manson Murders

Sarah Weinman at Poetry Magazine:

Around October 20, 1969, Sanders received a copy of an ecology newsletter called Earth Read-Out in the mail. The newsletter reprinted a five-day-old San Francisco Chronicle story describing two police raids on a remote desert ranch in California: “A band of nude and long-haired thieves who ranged over Death Valley in stolen dune buggies” had been rounded up. Sanders read the story with some interest, then put it aside. Six weeks later, when Manson’s picture was plastered across the front pages of newspapers, along with reports of the horrific crimes he’d allegedly orchestrated, Sanders recalled the thieves in the desert.

Sanders, 30 years old at the time, had lived a life and pursued a career only a few degrees of separation from Manson’s. The native Missourian had dropped out of college and moved to New York City in 1958 to study Greek at NYU, where he found kindred spirits among the Beats and the folksingers in the coffeehouses of Greenwich Village. He’d been arrested for protesting the proliferation of nuclear submarines and found early fame with Poem from Jail (1963), published by City Lights Books.

more here.