Edward Sanders wrote his first poem on jail-cell toilet paper after being arrested for protesting the launch of nuclear submarines in 1961. Political protest remains an intrinsic part of his poetic vision to this day. In 1976, Sanders founded Investigative Poetry; the principles of this movement appear most prominently in his History in Verse series.
Sanders’ signature is an imaginative compression of historical fact into poetic myth; his mode of “compacted history.” Angry, wistful, defiant and extremely funny, Sanders’ reinventions of historical worlds offer a moving masque of time constructed out of multiple narrative aspects and tones, skillfully and variously implemented by rhetorical techniques of chronicle, anecdote, document, reportage, paean and polemic. “Poetry should again assume responsibility for the description of history,” Ed Sanders proclaimed in his momentous 1976 manifesto on Investigative Poetics. Dedicated since then to a “relentless pursuit of data,” Sanders has distinguished himself as the historically engaged poet of his generation, the one poet of imagination whose work also brings us an important vision of a world existing outside itself.