“That Poem”

In my novel, ‘The Master’s Ruse’, the two main protagonists, an aging authoress and a former professor of English — friends, confidants and fellow writers — discuss evil and the concept of messianic energy.

It is a work of meta fiction, with the reader being drawn into an apocalyptic world where the oceans are biologically dead.
A junta which rules the fictitious country reinstates slavery as a means of controlling the movement of incoming climate and war refugees.
Literature and freedom of speech are banned.
Books are burned, authors and booksellers persecuted.
[It’s not a far-fetched scenario].

These two central characters, realising they have reached the ‘end of days’ deliberate the form in which messianic energy might present itself to bring about redemption.
They question how such messianic energy would escape persecution by the junta.
They question who might be redeemed and conclude that a messiah would surely only come to restore the ruined earth — ‘The Garden’.
They presume that a messiah would not risk incarnating into human form, nor as a holy book.
A messiah could only take the form of a poem, a poem which would move from heart to heart, bringing deliverance and enlightenment.

So, in a nutshell, that’s my fiction. In my real life, I work a lot with poets and poetry.
I am always seeking poems, but particularly ‘That Poem’, the ‘Redemptive Poem’, the ‘Messianic Poem’.
Some of the poems I encounter — whether written, recited or visual — do indeed move the heart, but the poem which will move humanity away from grotesque avarice and the plunder of creation, has not revealed itself to me.

A few weeks back, I read Eben Venter’s novel, ‘Decima’.
Described as elegiac and thrilling, it is a work of many voices — human and animal — with the most poignant being that of a rhinoceros.
The book has many threads, many lines, which incite gasps and utterances. I kept taking breaks and closing my eyes as I read, to let these lines reverberate through me.

Venter’s book makes me realise that ‘That Poem’ is all around us — all living creatures are voicing lines of it on behalf of a messiah.
We need only to listen.
And, in listening, allow our hearts to be moved.
And through allowing our hearts to be moved, go on to recalebrate our collective energy towards roles of curatorship instead of plunder.

I urge you to read ‘Decima’. It is a beautiful, poignant work. It will make you feel ashamed of the manner in which we treat the earth and other creatures. It will inspire you, too, to search deep and insistently for ‘That Poem’.

Decima by Eben Venter is published by Penguin Random House

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