The Poet’s Ghost — Episode Six, 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.

You can read notes on the previous episode here.

In this Episode Six, our narrator, Arcady, describes the small Takapuna bach (the former home of a deceased writer) in which he’s currently writing; and what it’s like to be a starving poet.

He wonders why New Zealand writers are so poor. Why must they be recognized by other well-known writers before their art is appreciated? He wonders if perhaps there are great poets in New Zealand who no one has ever heard of. Some brilliant uncelebrated taxi driver, perhaps, composing the most beautiful verses in the world.

He hears a knocking sound.

He muses about how much New Zealand could use a really good epic poem — something grand and beautiful to represent the country overseas and prove its literary wealth.

He hears the knocking sound again.

He talks about how he writes each day, and how the Takapuna bach is haunted by the ghost of the writer who lived there before him; how they lie in bed together; how he smells his breath and hears him rattle the keys of the Olivetti typewriter in the middle of the night.

Again the knocking sound. He laments the hard work of writing good poetry, the fate of poor New Zealand writers, and he ends this episode with a plea for money and food (a good reason, no doubt, for listeners to buy his book).

The story picks up again — with Megan and Arcady in their storm-battered helicopter — in Episode Seven, broadcast tomorrow, 10:45am, Radio NZ “Nine-to-Noon”.

A note about the verse structure:

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 Six:

Yet look at this – I write! I write!
I build, construct, design, reshape,
and try as best I can to scrape
the sky! Of stocky modest height,
these simple stanzas, not too wordy,
a quatrain base, austere and sturdy,
then rising up in couplet walls
on all four sides (no need of halls);
a loose iambic tetrameter rhyme
with some beats missed (is it a crime?);
dactyls and trochees thrown in for good measure;
male endings mostly, females for pleasure.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Res Publica, Book One