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Backpack Trekker: A 60's Flashback Paperback – February 17, 2011
About the Author
Beatlick Joe Speer, editor of "Beatlick News Poetry and Art Newsletter", has trekked the backroads of America literature for a generation sharing his poetic style in the spirit of Jack Keroauc and Neal Cassidy. He came out of the great Southwest, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and proud graduate of New Mexico State University. He is best remembered as the itinerate raconteur, living a minimalist lifestyle in a VW bus with Beatlick Pamela Adams Hirst.
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By: Beatlick Joe Speer
Published by Beatlick Press, Albuquerque, NM
When I look around at the 21st century I often feel that it has become a remix of times gone by that gave us the sounds and words we sample. There is a lack of adventure into the unknown and often the historical merits as well. When Pamela Hirst, Joe's Soulmate sent me a copy of his book Backpack Trekker: A 60's Flashback I was thankful to read something very original. I miss seeing Joe and Pamela on the very first poetry shows I ever witnessed. To have heard the treks fresh off the press as they were forming his book was like a great storyteller before you. Each one took you to a historical place and time and to what Joe was doing at the moment. There was also some fictional satire that amused the listener.
It gave me the feeling of when I first read Kerouac's On the Road. I often wanted to put my thumb out on the highway and see where the road took me. Joe left this world too soon, leaving us that knew him with an emptiness that cannot be defined. However, he held a complete edition of his book before journeying towards an infinite cosmic highway. For a couple of months I have been reading the treks which are set up like short chapters. From memory I can hear his soulful voice with creative wisdom. Joe takes us back to a simpler time when hitchhiking was a safe mode of travel and you could thumb a ride. There he experienced the deep spiritual connection and oneness found in that era. The places this book takes the reader confounds both the imagination and historical perspective. Like a great roller coaster ride, it moves through an era that gave us music, film, television, books and the knowledge that our greatest vehicle is ourselves.
Trek 1 begins with a bio line much like a news report. "In the cold winter of 1961 Bob Dylan arrived in New York City." It follows with Joe lamenting how the decade started badly for him as Albert Camus had died in an automobile accident. He continues with an idea that would be great if the automakers dared to print it when you buy a car. "Caution driving this machine may cause death." There follows vignettes of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg while high and living in Tangier, Morocco, and the writing of Neal Cassidy,
"The Revolution has begun!" What really grabbed my attention about this first trek is Joe introducing the political perspective of John F. Kennedy, Camelot, and the young president’s love for poetry, recalling Robert Frost at the inauguration. Joe got more into literature and film rather than sports. "I was content to watch and read about life. Movies and books provided the natural medium. I did not have to act, react, or respond to human stimuli. I did not have to judge or be judged."
Beatlick Joe feels the turmoil of America in the summer of 1969, desiring to join in the mix. His mother encourages him to follow his own path, promising him love and support. Joe set out on the open road with light provisions and a hunger to know what the world offered beyond his hometown.
The journeys that Joe's book gives us introduces not only faces who defined an era but ideas, places and events that I would love to have seen firsthand. It is a historical movement of all media with colorful characters met along the way. Anyone who has ever dreamed of seeing the world in an original perspective can get lost in these adventures. Many of us will never ascertain the ideas Joe realized since we only travel via the internet or what our modern skewed media decides is truth. This book is for the brave at heart seeking a wide open road of knowledge with wit and creativity at its helm. Each trek leads to a greater destination. Within the stories there is life lessons learned along the way. This journey created a writer whose poetry and prose should sit beside the Beat's and our greatest classical writers who define who we are and what is to come down that winding road of spiritual and literal pursuits. I suggest a good cup of coffee and jazz to accompany this work of art in words. I see this book as a primer for independent thinkers when there is no free thought.
In Trek 3 there is mention of a book club Joe and his friends had formed. There they discussed literature and ideas. It was when he was in a high school English prep class. The Fort Slash Book Club is discovered by parents and they are much more skeptical of the high-minded intentions perpetrated there and decided the dugout has to be covered over with dirt. This reminds me very much of the Dead Poets Society. To deal with his depression Joe wrote a poem. This poem made me feel how his words eloquently moved the audiences his treks reached. So I end this review with Beatlick Joe Speer at a microphone as I remember him so full of life.
When all the world's languages commingle
and create one expanded verbal medium
tariffs will become parasites extinguishable
with chemical solutions
inspiration will be purchasable metaphor
like tunnels underground
my ploy to inspire the infinite abstraction
is to fill your ears with the warm liquid of poetry.
Fort Oglethorpe, GA
Speer's recollection is no ordinary memoir; it is a work of literature in its own right. He is an old-school artisan and his medium is words. His chronicle serves the dual purpose of paying tribute to those who journeyed before him and creating a legacy from his own singular perspective.
No one will ever take the place of Beatlick Joe Speer. He leaves behind friends, family a legacy of prose and poetry, and his masterwork: Backpack Trekker: A Sixties Flashback. It is a work that stakes a place in history, literature, sociology and psychology. It is an exploration of the soul of an artist and stands alone as a chronicle of both the sixties and human evolution. It is a work that will live forever.