Friday, September 18, 2015

A Voyage in Search of Glyphs: Ed Sanders at Poets House by Harriet Staff

In order to prepare for Ed Sanders’s new exhibition at Poets House, Kendra Sullivan and Ammiel Alcalay visited Sanders’s Woodstock, NY home where they poured through boxes of previously unseen glyphs—many never intended for the public’s eye. The result is Seeking the Glyph: An Exhibition of the Glyphic Works of Edward Sanders. Tim Keane of Hyperallergic sets the stage:
In early 1966, following a New Years’ gig by his folk-rock band, the Fugs, the poet Ed Sanders woke up to find that his Peace Eye Bookstore, then on East 10th Street, had been raided by the NYPD. Sanders was taken to the Ninth Precinct, booked on obscenity charges and stripped of his pants so cops could inspect his private parts in search of a purported tattoo depicting “the first 53 hieroglyphs of Ak-eb-Aten’s Hymn to the Sun Disk.”
The episode — one of many chronicled in his picaresque memoir Fug You (DaCapo, 2011) — plays like a scene out of Kafka. But it captures the constant risks Sanders faced as a leading figure in overlapping counter-cultural movements centered on the Lower East Side of New York City in the early 1960s. Sanders, himself a young Beat poet, had been cooperating with figures from The Catholic Worker to spearhead the anti-nuclear movement.
As the 1960s progressed, he joined forces with the anti-Vietnam War groundswell, took part in Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and the Festival of Life outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. He was also an early advocate for legalizing marijuana. And much like the denizens of Judith Malina’s anarchic Living Theater, Sanders’ Peace Eye Bookshop and its small press were important East Coast centers for the cause of free speech, a liberation advanced by his editorship of the avant-garde literary project with the title Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts.
Seeking the Glyph: An Exhibition of the Glyphic Works of Edward Sanders at Poets House turns to a quieter, largely unfamiliar side of his career — the poet’s pictographic verse illustrated by doodles, icons, and ideograms inspired by Egyptian art and hieroglyphics.
The show is curated by poet and archivist Ammiel Alcalay and Kendra Sullivan of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. To mount this exhibition, Alcalay and Sullivan visited Sanders’ home in Woodstock and selected from boxes filled with hundreds of his glyphic art and poetry-drawings, almost all of which were never intended for public display. […]
Continue at Hyperallergic.
Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, May 7th, 2015 by Harriet Staff.


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