Complex Anachronism: Peter Porter's Jonah, Otherkind, Ancient and Contemporary Tempests, and the Divine

Anne Elvey


Australian poet Peter Porter collaborated with artist Arthur Boyd to produce their collection Jonah (1973) based on the biblical book. Porter writes of the style of the sequence of poems as “complex anachronism,” bringing together biblical resonances with contemporary social, ecological, and political themes. The contemporary context of anthropogenic climate change invites complex questions concerning relations between humans, other species, climate, and the divine. There are no easy correspondences between the biblical Jonah narrative and the contemporary challenges of climate change. But my reading of Jonah 2:1-11 in conversation with Porter’s poetic retelling of Jonah’s sojourn in the whale and Shakespeare’s Caliban, is suggestive for reimagining our own complex hybrid agencies and their implications for divine-human relationships as humans face the contemporary tempests of, and accompanying, anthropogenic climate change.


Jonah; Peter Porter; Australian poetry; ecological hermeneutics; climate change

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391