Beginning The Family

by Ed Sanders

It was around December of ’70
& my agent was pressuring me
to write the book
that was to become The Family
I was having trouble beginning
so I walked over to Café Reggio
on MacDougal
just down the street from the theater
The Fugs had played in
just three years previous.
And I tried the Kenneth Koch method:
just writing spontaneously what
was occurring in my mind —
Then I began sketching text
from my already voluminous notebooks and files
on the Manson group
from my visits to California

At the Reggio that afternoon I’m pretty sure
sat an eager & friendly Patti Smith
who said hello
as I began
      The Family

I saw that for the first drafts
I wrote the text
in line breaks & verse-clusters
which I later changed
to “regular” paraphrasing

having just heard that
Charles Manson had passed away