Edward Sanders is America's bard, the cheerful, chanting poet who sings our collective life and times, our "Seething Nation! Vast & Flowing! Day & Night & Dawn!" His present project, America: A History in Verse, is a free-wheeling, episodic, free-verse chronicle of the American Century, from the explosion of the Maine in Havana Harbor down to the present day. The first two volumes, chronicling the period 1900 1961, appeared in 2000 to great acclaim. Now Sanders gives us a third, an account of 1962 1970, "the time of a randy young president with a bad back / who attracted the squint-eyed scorn / & even the hatred of the / National Security Grouch Apparatus," of "a strange man named Johnson / & then the reappearance of an even stranger man named Nixon."
It was the time of Vietnam, civil rights, space shots, and evil "the only word for some of it." But it was also the time of the poet's Fugged-up youth and Oh! what bliss to be young, alive, and high in those excruciatingly interesting times, those days "when we searched for meaning / in the sawdust floors of rebel cafÃ©s / or the stardust soars of psychedelic haze / or mind-stretching hours in front of / 4- and 8-track tape recorders / getting our brains onto friendly oxide / while we outlined our livers / like a Dan Flavin sculpture"!
What a whirling hurry of years it was, what a flash of time! And what a necessary, twenty-first-century Whitman Sanders is, channeling Clio for our great nation,"where so many sing without cease / work without halt / shoulder without shudder / to bring the Feather of Justice to every / bell tower, biome & blade of grass." Long may Sanders sing us the 1960s, and long may his America "dwell in peace, freedom & equality / out on its spiraling arm / in the Milky Way."