Several Hundred People Dead — Episode One, Res Publica, Live on Radio NZ

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand Nine-to-Noon

Listen now.

In this first episode we meet the narrator, Arcady Robinson, who insists that the story he’s about to tell — of “seven years and fifty weeks of his life” — is absolutely true. Indeed, he has proof. Two pieces of proof:

First, that a bunch of strange debris was found on a vacant beach in Mercury Bay (and if his listener wishes to search further, several hundred people can be found dead at the bottom of the sea, at a location to be described in Episode 5).

And second, that he doesn’t know how to make things up; because if he did, well, then he’d be an official “writer,” that is, a published writer (which he isn’t), and the New Zealand Board of Arts (which has rejected his grant application) has made it very clear to him: one can’t be acknowledged as a writer, and receive a grant, without being published first.

In fact, claims Arcady, not only is his story true, but it’s a story known around the world, which of course — in our modern age of “typus excessus” (a.k.a. blogging) — threatens its very truthfulness.

He now begins his tale: About how he found himself alone one day on a boat in the Hauraki Gulf, and how he fell asleep and had a dream. This is where Episode One ends, with Arcady promising to reveal more in Episode Two, broadcast tomorrow on Radio NZ “Nine-to-Noon” at 10:45am.

A note about the verse:

Twelve-line tetrameter stanzas, with a mostly iambic cadence (although the rhythm is varied), and a rhyme scheme of abbaccddeeff. Some lines, of course, were cut or altered to fit the audio segments.

An example of a stanza from episode one:

O! That moment of immeasurable ease
which comes on gently rocking boats
in warm contented weather! One floats
as if on Time’s eternal seas,
a million years slip by with every
lurch and lulling pitch. A reverie
held in wobbly balance between
a savage sleep (pre-Pleistocene)
and playful, sweet Arcadian reason;
that moment between our circadian seasons,
half-Somnus, half-genius! Asleep and awake.
To live in that balance, what poets we’d make!


Filed under Res Publica, Book One

4 Responses to Several Hundred People Dead — Episode One, Res Publica, Live on Radio NZ

  1. Hi,

    I heard the first episode this morning. Congratulations. Arcady may not be an “official” writer, but you certainly are. I look forward to following the readings.

  2. Thank you, Andrew. Credit really goes to Radio New Zealand and Stuart Devenie for recognizing the work and taking the risk. As the episodes progress, I think listeners — not to mention accomplished poets and storytellers like yourself — will be surprised at where the story takes them.
    – Zireaux

  3. trudy

    Hello…how can I download to give to someone as a gift ?
    Thank you :)

  4. immortalmuse

    Hi Trudy, the recordings are available online here —

    Unfortunately we don’t have a complete version that can be packaged as a gift.