THE GURU OF JERUSALEM:
IN THE SHADOW OF JAMES K BAXTER
by Doug McPhillips
James K. Baxter was a major English language poet and playwright of the 20th century. He is arguably New Zealand’s foremost creative poet, writer and playwright. It did not take me long to delve into the man’s poetic genius and complexities of the character that he once was. Baxter the man of many talents who had been a gloomy youth of dysfunctional behaviour, a sex maniac, academic drop out, odd jobs man, teacher of young children, family man, once divorced, an uncontrollable alcoholic who ultimately became a most gifted counsellor of alcoholics, drug addicts and the founder and pioneer of a community for lost souls of the street and seekers of a new wave of communal life that lingers to this very day. Baxter was a searcher of self perception, an extreme pacifist with an eye towards truth and personal distinction, religiosity, and death. My own life seemed to parallel his in so many ways. So it was after a great deal of soul searching of his life that I concluded to use his life experience to draw from it a template to write my own life’s experience in his shadow. James K. Baxter died in 1972. He was only forth six years old. When he died the whole country mourned. And whilst his gift lives on in the books he wrote and memory of the man’s spiritual essence still lingers over the Maori community at Jerusalem, his bones have long since turned to ashes. It is hoped that this little story gives you the reader insight of an eternal life as it did for James K Baxter. As for me in my dotage, it further enhances my reason for being, as I tramp in the valley of the shadow of death always in search of the light.
Paperback ISBN 978-1-63649-005-2.