The beats and me


New member
My 9 month old grand-daughter, Grace Carmel Price, had just gone off to sleep. This is always a blessing for my wife and I when we are doing our stint of baby-sitting. My wife was gearing-up for her Sunday football in Australia, when my eye caught ABC24’s Big Ideas: The Practice of the Wild.[SUP]1 [/SUP]

This 2010 doco was about the life of the American Beat poet, Gary Snyder. His first book, Riprap, drew on his experiences as a forest lookout and as one of the trail-crew in Yosemite. The book was published in 1959. I was 15 years old at the time and in love with baseball, hockey, football and Susan Gregory. I also joined the Baha’i Faith that same year. -Ron Price with thanks to [SUP]1[/SUP]ABC24, 1:00-2:00 p.m., 3 June 2012.

For a review of this doco on 8 November 2011, go to:

In 1959 you shipped for Japan
where you rented that cottage
outside Kyoto & studied Zen.

You married in February 1960,
four months after I joined the
Baha’i Faith. Your poetry was
about your experiences, ideas,
& environments involved with
the work you did for a living:
logger, fire-lookout, crewman
on a freighter, translator, poet,
carpenter, and serious student
of Japanese animism……………..

You’ve been at it for 50+ years,
Gary, and I hardly knew you;
but I got your story today, &
reading about the origins of
the Beat generation as far as
the start of my life in the mid-
‘40s, I realized how much a
part of my own work is yours.

Still, my work is very different.
I really did not get ‘into’ poetry
until I was nearing the end of my
working life: 1955 to 1999--with
all its ups-and-downs, its endless
meetings, wall-to-wall people, &
finally, the urge to write poems.

Some had that Beat influence which
had been on the periphery of my life
since my early childhood: ‘46 to ’50.
But my poetry had a myriad influences;
with nearly 70 booklets & 7000 poems
I’d say I’m more eclectic than Beat….I
enjoyed learning about you today, Gary.

Ron Price
3 and 4 June 2012


New member
Earlier today I posted the above piece about The Beats. That movement of poetry, which found its origins back in the mid-to-late 1940s when I was a child, was on my mind today. I post the following 2 prose-poems to give the above piece more of a context for those with an interest in this subject, this movement in the world of poetry and the arts.-Ron Price

The poet is at the movies dreaming the film-maker’s dream but differently; the endless strips of celluloid are, for him, a fire in the dark, a fire of an unconscious enthrallment to his creative conception and a slow burning, a maturing by sensation and watchfulness.-Ron Price with thanks to John Keats, Herbert Read and Franz Kafka in Laurence Goldstein’s, The American Poet at the Movies: A Critical History, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbour, 1993, front page; and Herbert Read’s, The True Voice of Feeling: Studies in English Romantic Poetry, Faber and Faber, London, 1953, p.57 and 71.

There was a revolution taking place
back then, unbeknownst to my eye
and ear, as Bob Dylan and The Beatles
took the world by storm and rock-and-
roll was born and I pioneered to the next
town and the next and the next, starting
in the summer of ’62, as the mantle of poetry
passed from Kerouac, Ginsberg and the beats
to a whole new voice and I struggled to get
through it all, through depression and some
kind of mania, bought my first record: Barry
McGuire’s ‘The Eve of Destruction’, borrowed
my Mother’s LP ‘The Messiah’ and went off to
change the world with those sweet-scented streams,
a small prayer book and something, just born then,
we called by that rather publically pretentious name:

The Universal House of Justice.[SUP]1[/SUP]

[SUP]1 [/SUP]The international and democratically elected body of the Baha’i community which came into existence in 1963 as the fully institutionalized charisma, to use Weber’s term, of a prophetic, a poetic phenomenon that has no reference points in the contemporary world. It is associated, rather, with climactic changes of direction in the collective past of the human race. For this charismatic Force in the person of Bahá’u’lláh, claimed to be no less than the Messenger of God to the age of human maturity, the Bearer of a Divine Revelation that fulfils the promises made in earlier religions, and a Force that will generate, over many generations as Christianity did 2000 years ago, the spiritual nerves and sinews for the unification of the peoples of the world.

Ron Price
22 June 1997
(updated: 8/1/08)
Last edited:


New member
IN 1959

In the 1950s and 1960s there were evolving etymologies for the word beat. In "The Origins of the Beat Generation," originally published in Playboy magazine in 1959, the year I joined the Bahá'í Faith, the beat poet Jack Kerouac wrote that the word beat originally meant poor, down and out, deadbeat, on the bum, sad and sleeping in subways. He further noted that the word had gained an extended meaning connoting people who "have a certain new gesture, or attitude.”(1) Kerouac suffused the label with positive connotations, a move he later extended into giving "beat" a religious significance. The Beats were for a time, in this evolving etymology, saints in the making who were walking the Earth doing good deeds in the name of sanctitude, holiness and the beatific. There was certainly an element of this in the Bahá'í ethos of the Ten Year Crusade of 1953-1963.

Kerouac had at one stage claimed that "beat" was the second religiousness in Western Civilization that the historian Oswald Spengler had prophesized in his Decline of the West in 1918.(2) But, by 1965, he had changed this view of the beats, the beatniks, the counter-culture and, in fact, strongly denounced its entire ethos. By the mid-soaring sixties he had come to see that generation of dissent and dissenters as the very opposite of Spengler’s second-religiousness. He called it “a soaring hysteria.”(3) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Jack Kerouac, "The Origins of the Beat Generation," in Don Allen, ed., Good Blonde and Others, Grey Fox Press, San Francisco, 1994, p. 61; (2) ibid., p.66 and (3) Ann Charters, ed., Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1957-1969, Penguin Books, NY, 1999, p. 464.

Your notion of Beat as a Spenglerian
second coming ended in a very bitter
disappointment—millennial believer
whose apocalypse just never arrived.
You denied all political---collectivist
implications for the beats & beatniks.

You had used the term back in 1951 to
describe guys who ran around the land
and country in cars looking for jobs and
girlfriends, kicks and fun. You remained
an on-again-off-again beat...throughout
your life, flirting with many religions but
always infusing them with a dose of your
Catholicism to which you ultimately went
back for its order, tenderness and piety as
you put in in one of your many letters.....

The word "beat" had extended to cover
all of America by the end of the sixties
and most of the world..youngsters used
your On the Road as a search-roadmap.(1)

But you abdicated your status as King of
the Road as well as King of the Beats.(2)

(1) Jack Kerouac(1922-1969), On the Road, 1957. I thank Bent Sørensen for his: “An On & Off Beat: Kerouac's Beat Etymologies,” in philament: An Online Journal of Arts and Culture, April, 2004.

Ron Price
2 January 2010


New member
Thanks, teddy and VictorFMadsen. Your words of encouragement are......encouraging. I wish you well from my home Downunder.-Ron