Beatlick Joe Speer’s spirit soars

January 27, 2011

Pamela Hirst and Joe Speer

The following appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News.

LAS CRUCES – “Beatlick” Joe Speer, sickness writer and editor of a poetry journal that attracted a worldwide fan base, help died Tuesday in hospice care in Albuquerque. He was 62.

Speer, who, with Wayne Crawford, was profiled in a Jan. 23 SunLife feature about poets’ courageous and creative attitudes in the face of catastrophic illness, was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer on Nov. 19.

“Beatlick Joe has left the building. He went out with style and panache,” said Pamela Hirst, coeditor of the Beatlick News and Speer’s longtime “soulmate and life partner.”

In a mid-January phone interview, Speer was philosophical about his life journey.

“I’m not upset. It’s not really for me to decide when I come and go. Those decisions are made by some other forces and it’s out of my control. You never know how long you have, how many miles you’re going to log on this road trip. When you’re ripe, they pluck you,” Speer said.

“I’d hoped Joe would have lived long enough to hold a copy of his new book in his hands,” Hirst said.

The compilation of Speer’s writings, “Backpack Trekker: A 60s Flashback,” went to the printer this week and will soon be available on, Hirst said.

She expressed gratitude that “so many people are coming together to honor Joe. I know how loved he is. I am the lucky woman who got to live with him for 22 years.”

Speer, a New Mexico State University graduate, was born Oct. 24, 1948, in Albuquerque. He and Hirst have largely
been based in Las Cruces in recent years, but also lived in Tennessee, helping Hirst’s mother in the last days of her life, and have spent a lot of time on the road and house sitting for friends.

They’ve continued to distribute print and online versions of their poetry and arts newsletter, “Beatlick News,” and until recently were taking part in poetry readings and literary events throughout the United States.

His poetry journal, Speer said this month, “was what we really enjoyed doing. It really connected me with a lot of writers.”

Chronicles of Speer’s final months, “Pamela’s Journal,” updates on Speer’s book and what Hirst said will be the last edition of the Beatlick News are accessible at www.

Hirst said a tribute to Speer is planned at a Downtown Ramble Open Mic session at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Rio Grande Theatre on the Downtown Mall. A memorial is also planned at New Mexico State University Library at a date to be announced. Contributions in Speer’s memory may be sent to Hospice.

In addition to Hirst, Speer’s survivors include his brother, Paul A. Speer, and a nephew, Aaron Avery, both of Nashville.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450.


3 Responses to “Beatlick Joe Speer’s spirit soars”

  1. Dale Sewell on February 12th, 2012 3:07 pm

    I met Joe in Nashville, TN. In the early 90’s. The Pub Of Love in downtown Nashville was THE poetry venue. When Joe and Pam left… poetry left Nashville. It was an honor to call Joe a friend and I will miss him always God Bless, Joe and Pam.

  2. Dick Whipple on July 10th, 2013 10:35 am

    Joe spear(no pun, but it’s a possibility)headed many things in his short life, but his dignified interment as a pauper — thanks to Bernalillo County, New Mexico — may set a style for other locales to follow. The pauper’s grave was done with such grace you can only regret that Mozart hadn’t had such a memorial. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

  3. Victoria Life Long Friend Of Joe's on July 24th, 2014 2:18 pm

    Beautiful service, memorial & tribute…Best thing Bernalillo County has EVER hosted & spent tax dollars on. It was a pauper’s grave that is until Joe showed up…Then it turned into a party, as Joe always loved an audience & meeting new people. Brilliant man, incredible poet, story teller. A wonderful human being with the most beautiful heart…Joe was one of a kind ~ I consider myself blessed to have had Joe in my life & for the footprints that he forever left on my heart. Beatlick Joe so long ago, you & I did a lot of hitchhiking in our time & the time came…It would be a solo mission, you hitchhiked your final ride out of this dimension. Until we meet on the other side, I already know you’ll be waiting to greet me upon my arrival. I hold tight to the part of you that you left with me in my heart where it remains forever… In Loving Memory

Got something to say?

Social Widgets powered by