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The Importance of Notebooks in My Writing

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Introduction to SECTION IX


The material below, not originally part of this 5th edition, has been added as an appendix. This appendix may be useful for future autobiographical, biographical and historical work. Since such a substantial part of my life has been spent compiling and utilizing notebooks in my teaching, my personal study and my writing, it seemed relevant to include this commentary on my notebooks in this 5th edition of my autobiography.

Notebook is the general name I give to each file that I have in my study and an adjoining spare bedroom. One can spend much time defining precisely what constitutes a file, a notebook, but I do not intend to do that here.1 I do that in several places in my literary resource base and especially here in this Notebooks: Volume 5. This Volume 5 of my Notebooks focuses on the Notebooks of other writers and provides an overview of some 300 of my own Notebooks.

Insensibly, after I completed the first edition of my autobiography Pioneering Over Four Epochs in 1993, and as the last 13 years since 1993 have run their course, I became aware of the importance of the Notebooks of other writers as models for my own and of the genre Notebooks to my literary products, to my oeuvre in all its forms. It was my hope that I might learn a few things from these other writers and define as precisely as I needed to do the concept of Notebook. This Notebook, Volume 5, attempts, as I say above, to place the Notebooks of other writers into some overview, some overall statement and perspective. After more than fifty years of keeping Notebooks of various kinds I am beginning to get a feel for their role in my life. In about 1950 when I entered grade one I produced a Notebook, but it was another 12 years before anything substantial, anything was created, that could, that might, in time, become part of an archival Notebook.2 Now, like shards of memory distilled from the past they provide scenes to be contemplated, tasted, savoured when it serves my purpose. Now, after more than forty years, these Notebooks have become a type of memoir which contains a dialogue with the mixed legacies of my life: religious, cultural, historical. For the most part, though, these Notebooks are not poignant or provocative; they are, rather, workmanlike collections, general repositories, of other people’s ideas and words.

Those who wrote autobiographies and memoirs in the Bahá'í community were few and far between. Those who did were content, for the most part, to write a short exposition what might become a chapter of a book. The closest I’ve come to notebooks is pilgrims’ notes. What I have tried to do in my autobiography with its poetry, notes, journal and essays is to do what Samuel Beckett did with his plays. He specified, not just the words, but the rhythms and tones, the sets and the lighting plots, and these specifications are preserved in the remarkable series of notebooks published by Faber and Faber. Where most great playwrights were content to write the text of a play, Beckett wrote the entire theatrical event. In some ways my autobiography is an entire theatrical event. As this theatrical event approaches some 2500 pages, this comparison of my approach to Beckett’s is, I think, apt.

I now have some 300 files or Notebooks and it has become tiresome to try and keep count. In the 44 years, my pioneering years 1962 to 2006, of keeping material that has become part of a Notebook somewhere in this vast collection of material, I have also discarded literally hundreds of Notebooks. This Notebook:Volume 5 should be of value to anyone interested in general perspectives, overall pictures, of my Notebooks. I realize that future readers may find some ambiguity in my use of the term Notebook. I apologize here for placing any individuals who take a serious interest in all of this printed matter in these difficult positions with respect to my terminology and the resources in question. But I am confident that, should anyone really be interested in these Notebooks, I have done an ample job of organizing my printed matter for any future historical value it might have, if any.
1 Generally, though, I define a Notebook as an arch-lever file, a 2-ring binder, an A-3 manilla folder or an easy-glide desk file. Of course, within most of these different collecting points there are sub-files or separate Notebooks. If I considered these sub or separate sections as Notebooks there would be several thousand Notebooks in my collection.
2 The oldest document I created is an essay I wrote in the early months of 1962 in English class.--February 12th-March 4th 2006


In the more than fifty years(1949-2006) that I have gathered my writing into Notebooks the writing has fallen into three general categories: school, job and personal/Baha’i. The first category was created in the years 1949 to 1988 in primary, secondary and tertiary education and then external studies programs(1973-1988). From the hundreds of Notebooks created in these years only two remain. From the hundreds created in the dozens of jobs I have had the only ones remaining are the approximately 30 files/Notebooks from my last job at Thornlie College, Notebooks from several of the social sciences and humanities.

The final category of Notebooks now in my possession are what I would term personal/Baha'i. They were created not for use in a place of employment, not as a teacher or in a school system. They were created for my own use in my work as a Baha’i or in my personal use as a writer and poet. I have been gathering resources now for forty years, 1966-2006, but only seriously for the last twenty, 1986-2006. I have been fine-tuning this 20 year collection of Notebooks in the last ten years, 1996-2006. I now have some 300 Notebooks covering millions of words and many subjects and topics. These Notebooks now serve and will serve as an important part of the base for my many writing projects in these years of my late adulthood(60-80) and old age(80++) should I be granted a long life.

Little did I know when I created my first Notebook at the mid-point in the twentieth century that fifty-seven(1949/50-2006) years later Notebooks would come to occupy such an important place in my daily life. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, March 3rd, 2006.

Anselm Hollo wrote: "I love reading poets' notebooks. Poets are curious critters, and it is a pleasure to relax with the jottings and musings of other practitioners."1 Many writers and poets, though not all, keep Notebooks. This part of Pioneering Over Four Epochs, section IX, contains information relevant to my Notebooks. What readers find here provides a general framework for the many Notebooks I have kept over the years. If there is any threat of philosophical textbookism hovering in the margins of my Notebooks, and the threat does exist, there is also my determination to "see ideas as always soaked through by the personal and social situations in which I find them." This tends to fend off that danger of textbookism with what I hope is, at least sometimes, a dazzling effect.

There are generally two types of Notebooks which I use. One is the type where I keep notes on a particular subject. The subjects on which I kept notes--and booklet, the notebook names--are listed in this section.1 Another notebook is the type where I keep quotations on the subject of writing, the literary process: poetry, reading, autobiography, diary/journal keeping and letter writing, inter alia. In this latter category I have some 20 major files and in the former category I have some 280 files. There is material in these Notebooks going back to the 1960s, the beginning of my pioneering experience but, for the most part, the Notebooks assumed the form they did in the last ten years and especially after I retired from full-time employment in 1999.
1 Anselm Hollo, The Poet's Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of 26 American Poets, WW Norton and Co., NY, editor, Stephen Kuudisto, et al., 1995.
2 Too many to list here. -9/9/04.


Karl Marx hand-copied whole passages of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus into his Notebooks. The significance to Marx of the thought of Spinoza is much less clear than the simple fact of his copying passages of Spinoza.1 The massive quantities of copied material in my Notebooks, two-ring binders and arch-lever files now numbering over three hundred, could be viewed for the significance of the thought of these various authors in relation to many Baha’i themes. There is, of course, significance beyond Baha’i themes but, after 40 years of pioneering, the main focus is the connection of these resources to the Baha’i Cause. If a reader sifted my entire oeuvre and any specific writer through the collirium of the Baha’i teachings, I’m sure he would find many interesting connections. For Price, these Notebooks were themselves a significant sifting mechanism.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Eugene Holland, “ Spinoza and Marx,” Cultural Logic, 2002; and 2Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, January 11th, 2004.

I take a hint from Bill Bryson's new book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, that there may be a couple of good ways to think about ideas, and it would be a shame to blur them. Here he reports on a poet and a physicist talking about their work habits:

When the poet Paul Valery once asked Einstein if he kept a notebook to record his ideas, Einstein looked at him with mild but genuine surprise. "Oh, that's not necessary," he replied. "It's so seldom I have one"(p.123).

Writers very often keep Notebooks and dip into them for ideas later on. They do this for at least two reasons. They want to preserve the energetic bits of language that come to them from time to time because they know that inspiration usually doesn't deliver whole poems and certainly never whole novels. Instead, they have to come back to the inspired bits and grow them into larger works, through regular practice of their craft. And they know that if they write regularly they will have more inspired bits to come back to. Good language comes to a writer who is working regularly with language, and not so much to one who writes only when on holiday, sporadically as if part of leisure time.

Einstein’s point needs emphasizing here because my Notebooks are full of ideas but they are significantly the words of others. To have an idea that is all yours is a rare experience. Poets have inspirations in all sorts of situations: as they walk along, sit, eat, or whatever. I knew a fiction writer once who said he thought poets were always "working." “Working is” that magical insider's word that writers use with each other to describe their writing activity. But there are different styles of working. T. S. Eliot once said in an interview that he didn't keep notes of ideas for new poems because he thought they froze when they were written down, but they kept evolving when he had them in his head rather than on paper.

The French poet Valery is surprised at Einstein, I believe, because as a poet he thinks through the specificity of language, and needs to keep the rich, promising clusters of new writing at hand somewhere, somehow, in order to save and work with the specificity. One way or another, Valery needs to preserve the hints, the false starts, the fragments, that might lead him in the direction of that specificity. Language is not the form his work takes; language is his work. And for me, of course, the language bites are different. Each writer has a different game and his Notebooks reflect his game and the quality of his intellectual clearing house.

I can't speak as clearly about the specificity in Einstein's field. I don't know it very well. I recognize its power, its workable specificity, even if I don't speak his language and don't know, perhaps, what to make of his allegiance to mathematics and quantitative analysis. But Valery offers a clearer clue, at least to this reader, about writers having a generative relationship to language. It's visible in the ways they work, as mine are visible in the ways I work. –Ron Price with thanks to Ken Smith’s website, 03/07/03 at 8:33 pm.


I have a faculty...for burying an emotion in my heart or brain for forty years, and exhuming it at the end of that time as fresh as when interred.-Thomas Hardy, Notebooks, in The World of Poetry: Poets and Critics on the Art and Functions of Poetry, Clive Sansom, selector, Phoenix House, London, 1959, p.26.

Some would say that’s not a good idea, Thomas;
confusing burying with repressing is understandable.
For me burying is an unconscious process
associated with memory, so that remembering
is like creating something anew,
not always mind you, experiencing it
for the first time, again and again.
If I have any gift as a poet it is this
and it extends from strong experiences
to minute observations. This is the fresh centre
of richness which feeds imagination,
feeds the present with charged particles,
with blood and bone, with glance and gesture
and the poem rises and goes forth like a phoenix
from ashes where emotion lies buried,
exhumed fresh and tasted as if in some other world
by some other me, as if for the first time.

17 September 1995

I think what caught my fancy about the story of Francis Bacon1, in addition to his works of art and some of the quite stimulating and provocative things he said about art and the creative process, was the transfer in tact to Ireland of Bacon’s entire art studio at 7 Reece Mews in South Kensington. Bacon worked in this studio from 1961 to 1992. It is unlikely that this will ever happen to my study. The reasons for this are complex but obvious after a brief reflection.

My study holds less interest for the eye than Bacon’s studio. There is less colour, little clutter, far less heterogeneity and diversity of materials here. What I have here in my study is an orderly arrangement of books, files, furniture and stationary resources. In a general culture that takes more interest in the visual than in print a place like this study has virtually nothing to offer the art gallery, the library, the museum. The archivist or the librarian might find some print materials here that they could integrate into their wider collections. But I can not think of any reason to keep this study at “6 Reece Street” in tact for some future generation, as the studio of Francis Bacon has been kept.-Ron Price with thanks to 1“7 Reece Mews,” ABC TV, 11:20-12:20 p.m., 14/15 August, 2005.

I watched “7 Reece Mews,”
on ABC TV last night
14th /15th August 2005
and wondered to myself
if there was any point in
transferring my study to some
home for tourists to come,
a place to serve as model
location for serious reflection.

But after brief consideration
I concluded that this could
never happen to my world,
this extension of who I am,
this identity framework
that tells much about this
self, this person, this man
from Canada transplanted
to the Antipodes near the
end of the Nine Year Plan
to spend the rest of his life
and lay his bones in the soil
at the southern end of the axis.

Ron Price
August 15th 2005

In his work from day to day Leonard da Vinci concentrated on one thing at a time and, while he concentrated on that one thing, that thing was the most important in the world. Not much got done in the short term because da Vinci seemed interested in everything but, over a lifetime, da Vinci accomplished many great things, albeit unfinished. After his death Leonard da Vinci’s Notebooks were hidden away, scattered or lost. His wonderful ideas were forgotten; his inventions were not tested and built for hundreds of years. It was largely due to his wide interests that the things he started were never finished. These casual, passing, fleeting, but intense, interests can be found described, outlined, in those Notebooks. These Notebooks record his observations, his sketches, his notes. They are all scattered through 28 Notebooks in over 5000 pages from 1490 to 1519. His Notebooks are a fascinating mixture of philosophy, scientific enquiry and art with, arguably, four major topics: painting, architecture, mechanics and anatomy made from the age of 37 to 67.-Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, “Leonardo da Vinci,” 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., October 31st, 2004.
__________________________________________________ _________
Some may regard me as a little presumptuous to compare my Notebooks to those of one of the greatest geniuses of history. But, as Bahiyyih Nakhjavani writes in her article “Artist, Seeker and Seer,” our greatness “rests not in ourselves as much as in our ability and desire to circle around the great.”1 ‘Contrast’ is a better word than ‘compare’ because my Notebooks are so very different than da Vinci’s. I won’t enumerate all the differences; perhaps the main difference is a visual bias in his work and a print bias in mine. Mine were collected some 500 years after da Vinci’s. Perhaps the first Notebook I created was in 1949-1950 in kindergarten and from that year until 1962 I created many a school Notebook. None of these notes now exist except two essays from English class in 1961-2 and now located in my Journal Volume 1.1.

I have some other notes going back to the early to mid sixties, to the start of my pioneering life in 1961-2, newspaper columns by Richard Needham of the Toronto Globe and Mail, and the 1970s. Most of these notes are: (a) photocopies of material given to me by students at Box Hill Tafe, (b) from Baha’i books which I keep in my Notebook: “Notes/Quotes file B,” (c) from a sociology of art course I taught in 1974 and (d) from media studies courses I taught in Ballarat in 1976-7. But the vast bulk of my notes comes from the quarter century, 1981 to 2006. Many notes and Notebooks from 1982 to 2002 were given to the Baha’i Council of the Northern Territory as part of The History of the Baha’i Faith in the NT: 1947-1997; many were given to my colleagues when I left the teaching profession in 1999; many were thrown out when I reorganized my Notebooks on retiring from teaching in 1999 and retired from casual and volunteer teaching by mid-2004.

What exists now in my study are notes and Notebooks for a twenty-five year period, 1981 to 2006, from the age of 37 to 62.2 The collection of alia, consists of written notes and quotes from books on a multitude of subjects, photocopies and typed copies of the works of others and notes taken mostly from my reading and, to a far lesser extent, my observations and experiences. There are many categories of these Notebooks: (i) journal and diary Notebooks, (ii) Baha’i Notebooks and (iii) Notebooks on a multitude of humanities and social science disciplines /topics in 300(ca) Notebooks in the form of two-ring binders and arch-lever files, inter alia.

I have made a list of these and previous Notebooks in Section IX of my autobiography, Pioneering Over Four Epochs. I have also added additional information on the notebooks of other writers to help provide perspectives on my own notes and note-keeping. I should add, too, that there are many (iv) poetry Notebooks which occupy an extensive category unto itself. One could say that these are the four main categories of Notebooks that I have in my study twenty-five years after I began to keep notes that became the collection that now exists.3

New ideas are incubated, to some extent, in these Notebooks. I have squeezed brief writing periods, sketches of varying lengths and tasks of different kinds, into my frenetic life out of necessity because I was teaching a particular subject, out of interest because it was associated with my involvement in the Baha’i Faith or because I wanted to write about a subject, an idea, an experience, if not at the time I recorded the words, at least later on. I rarely recorded observations of nature in any detail, although occasionally I did in my poetry. The accounts of my experiences can be found in my journals and my poetry. They are scattered like seeds on page after page and sometimes they fall on the right soil and grow into poems, essays or chapters of a book.

There are now 1000s of pages of notes; I would not even want to begin to count them. Over time I hope to write a more detailed outline of their origins, their evolution and their present contents. I’m not sure they are worth preserving as da Vinci’s were hundreds of years after they were written. I think it unlikely, although I will leave that to a posterity that I can scarcely anticipate at this climacteric of history in which I am living. For now, though, this brief statement is sufficient.4
_______________________FOOTNOTES__________________ _____
1 Bahiyyih Nakhjvani, “Artist, Seeker and Seer,” Baha’i Studies, Vol.10, p.19.
2 My Notebooks from the age of 18 to 39, from 1962 to 1984, are so minuscule as to hardly rate a mention. Those from the age of 5 to 18, although extensive, have disappeared into the dustbin of history. My first notes from the period 1984 to 2004 come from January 19th 1984, a journal entry. A more extensive analysis than this cursory one here may reveal a different timetable, a different history of my Notebooks.
3 Of course the whole note-taking process could be said to begin in the early years of primary school, say, 1949-1953 by which time I was in grade 4 and nine years old.
4 Ron Price, “In Commemoration of the 47th Anniversary of the Passing of the Guardian in 1957,” Pioneering Over Four Epochs. –2004 to 2006.
__________________________________________________ _________

It is by a continual effort that I can create....My deepest, most certain leaning is toward silence and everyday activity. It has taken me years of perseverance to escape from distractions....It is how I despair and how I cure myself of despair.-Albert Camus, Selected Essays and Notebooks, Penguin, 1970, p.276.

I tend toward ‘the work’ every minute
and can sit vacant staring at the garden
or some inane bit of TV or some vacuous
act for only so long without a feeling of
great emptiness invading which I must fill
with my ‘planned program’.* If this cannot
be done, I fill my own mind with my own
thoughts or some Passage. But, generally,
in a chaos of reading, silence and creation
I keep out a distracted, frenetic passivity
and a mountainous world of trivia as far
away as I can until necessity intervenes.

And then, then.... some holy simplicity,
some rest, plain mysterium, a feeling of
the numinous, a nothingness, an idiosyncratic
something that is incommunicable, gliding on
a sea of faith with reason resting in the wings,
the burning desire to seek enjoying a low
flame, quietly flickering, in a free zone
of some unprecedented dignity and ease.

12 January 1996

Each artist thus keeps in his heart of hearts a single stream which, so long as he is alive, feeds what he is and what he says. When that streams runs dry, you see his work gradually shrivel up and start to crack. -Albert Camus, Selected Essays and Notebooks, editor, Philip Thody, Penguin, London, 1970, p.18.

There’s been a stream, scented,
I’ve been drinking from since
before I came of age. The waters
have been sweet and deep, with
periodic wastelands when the bed ran dry
and the blackest soil filled my soul
with fear, disorder and dessication.

My own tributary of this stream
only began to run in my middle years.
Inspiration has run with a force
that I barely understand, nor can withstand
its roving eye and hand like an interwoven
carpet or some meteor travelling through the dark.

Will this tributary shrivel after I have expressed
my life and all it means at a deeper, more intense,
more clear-sighted level than anything I can achieve
in the daily round? I think not; for it is a tributary
of a great and thundering river whose waters will
flow on forever into the sweet streams of eternity:

as long as I have the will that will’s this eternal flow;
I know many who have not
the will that will not will belief.
The mood will not strike them here below:
I know not why?

12 January 1996

...the highest station which they who aspire to know Thee can reach is the acknowledgement of their impotence to attain the retreats of Thy sublime knowledge I...beseech Thee, by this very powerlessness which is beloved of Thee....-Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations, USA, 1938, p.89.

To read Price’s poetry, his notebooks, his autobiographical narrative, his essays and his letters is to shift constantly from his imaginative and intellectual life to the here and the now, a specific time and place in the microcosm or the macrocosm. He has a wonderful capacity, gift if you like, to not see dust, as Virginia Woolf puts it, to be quite removed from the day-to-day trivia of life, as his wife might have put it-and often did. The rare joys of reality are juxtaposed with the endless elements of that trivia, the endlessly prosaic. Perhaps the reason he was a poet, at least in the 1990s, was that he could not stop. For him, writing poetry was a form of self-knowing, a form of risk-taking where he exposed himself. This process, though, helped him to define himself as a writer. -Ron Price with thanks to Marlene Kadar, editor, Essays on Life Writing: From Genre to Critical Practice, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1992.

It was not all risk, though;
some of it was simply pure
surprise and wonder: like
the two exploding stars colliding
17 million light years from Earth
and taking, according to one astrophysicist,
1200 years to do their colliding;
shooting out gas in all directions
at 36 million kilometres per hour,
creating a supernova,
a brilliant light show, in a place,
a galaxy, where six supernovas
have been produced
since ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote His
Tablets of the Divine Plan.

And me, defining myself,
my sense of nothingness,
in the face of that immensity.

Ron Price
14 June 1997

It is absolutely essential to the writing of anything worthwhile that the mind be fluid and release itself to the task. -William Carlos Williams

Every poem should be the last poem, written as if it contained the last thing the poet would ever say-like a will. -Lisel Mueller in The Poet’s Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of 20 American Poets, W.W. Norton & Co., NY, 1995, p.218.

Every once in a while I go
to some plush joint on the
sixteenth floor and get a view
of the big smoke, or eat a lunch
in the finest restaurant in town
and discuss the state of the world,
or travel in the fast lane for an afternoon
with dinner at the Ritz, or rent a flash car
for the day; it’s a dip into another world for
an instant in time, a world that belongs to
someone else, that’s not quite me, or me for
a minute, fixed on a landscape, a soil, with new
desires, significations, to savour, like a dream,
vain and empty, just a semblance of reality.

We all must live in this outer world of physical reality. This world of people, places and things, in which we suffer, mate and, in time, die is something we all experience, albeit in different ways. The poet, the true artist in us, also lives in another world, an inner world, a world which is both separate and not separate from this outer world; it draws on this outer world, exists in a symbiotic relationship with this world, attempts to reconcile, blend and embody this outer world. There is an interchange, an interplay, a playing between this inner and outer world. -Ron Price with thanks to Dylan Thomas in Poet in the Making: The Notebooks of Dylan Thomas, editor, Ralph Maud, J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., London, 1968(1965), p. 26.

I feel as if I have become
more introverted with the years.
I bring the world’s wonders
into myself.
I put words around
every atom in existence
and the essence of all created things,
as much as I can,
within my limitations,
except what the garment of words
can not clothe
and what those mystic tongues
and their mysterious melodies
find no ear with which to hear.

9 October 1999

I try to make a place, a landscape, in my poems.-Octavio Paz in The Poet’s Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of 26 American Poets, W.W., Norton & Co, NY, 1995.

A poem is to keep a now for then. -Felix Pollak, ibid.

What we see here towers
far too high for us to grasp.
These terraces and marbles
elude our mental clasp.

The anguish and the loss
that make our furrows
of sweet toil, now spur-on
striding spirits every morning,
on the boil.

The world sees a lovely hanging
garden on the way to work,
a place for flowers and for laws,
a crystal concentrate of beauty,
a blissful vision and a cause.

No one knows what lurks
beneath the ground
of this vast expanse.
The vision’s coming faster now:
the dancer and the dance.1

6 January 1999

1 This is a vahid, or poem of 19 lines,
NOTEBOOKS: Fitzgerald’s and Mine

F. Scott Fitzgerald "began assembling his Notebooks"1 some time after May 1932. He was thirty-six and had eight years to live before his death in 1940. He used his Notebooks to record ideas and observations. Bruccoli, in his review of these Notebooks, says they are not that interesting as literary documents but, since they were from Fitzgerald, they are important.2 Two novels and a collection of short stories appeared from the eight years that Fitzgerald utilized Notebooks.

R. Frederick Price "began assembling his Notebooks" in the 1960s and 1970s, but little remains from these collections. In the 1980s and 1990s Price began to assemble an extensive collection of notes from the humanities and the social sciences, not so much observations as quotations from his reading, photocopies from books, magazines and journals and, by the late nineties, material from the Internet. A vast amount of this, too, has been lost, given away or left behind where he lectured and taught. His poetry, of course, contained the sorts of notes that came from observations and ideas. By 2006, as this statement was being recorded, over three hundred two-ring binders, arch-lever files and booklets of poetry filled with notes represented Price's collection of Notebooks. -Ron Price with thanks to 1&2Matthew J. Bruccoli, editor, The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, NY, 1945, p.viii & p.ix.

It had become a massive embrace,
filled the spaces all around him
like a sprawling glove
that noone could wear,
like a collection of old shirts
nicely hung and arranged
to wear on cold or warm days.

He'd been warming to them for,
what, forty years now?1
It had been a lifetime
since that early start
with lots of practice
even in those earlier years,
perhaps as far back as '53--
surely not that soon,
not in grade four2
when the Kingdom
was just arriving
and that Crusade
to conquer the world?

1 1962-2002
2 I have vague recollections of notebooks from school from about 1949 through 1962, from kindergarten to grade 12 in Ontario Canada. Nothing, of course, remains from this period except a few old photographs. The oldest item from a notebook that I possess comes from 1962.


The octopus is the most ambidextrous creature alive. Man, in his ability to live and work within a multitude of polarities, has the most flexible mind of all living creatures. -Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, “Incredible Sickers”, 6:00 pm, Sunday, 25 August 1996.

I feel no division between art and action, no social fragmentation of poetry from life, no ivory tower, no barricades. I work in solitude surrounded by community, many communities, in dialogue and silence, alternating between myself and some collectivity. This poetry and this action moves through my solitude and its membrances. I experience the pull of the inner and the outer, voices often wrenching me between poles, between the dichotomy of active and contemplative. This dichotomy, part of the very mystery of polarity, is at the heart of oneness. The experience of oneness is the experiencing of an alternation between the active and the contemplative, an alter- nation as necessary as day following night. For this is oneness. -Ron Price, thanks to Adrienne Rich, What I Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, WW Norton and Co, NY, 1993, p.53.

If you want an experience of an alien life form,
you could just dive into the sea in the right
places and meet the Houdini of the ocean deeps.
This hunter and gatherer of the last frontier on
earth-the great abyss-this cephalopod, the octopus,
a skeemy predator, swimming and foraging as he
has for one hundred and fifty million years. He was
a professional long before homo sapiens sapiens
emerged looking like the mammals of yesteryear.
He is still a professional, as we learn to map his
life in this most recent epoch of the Formative Age
when knowledge continues its explosive journey from
these abyssal depths to the edges of the universe,
pioneering processes crystallized by other pioneers.1

26 August 1996

PS. I often wonder what the relationship is between the extension of the Baha’i Faith, an extension based on The Tablets of the Divine Plan and promulgated since 1919, and the extension of knowledge on this earth. I like to think that the Baha’i pioneer has been a critical variable in this complex equation. Pioneers have been so critical to the extension of the new light that their true value is largely unappreciated, even by themselves.