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Christopher Logue, 1926-2011
December 4, 2011 4:47 AM   Subscribe

"Almost everything I do is based on other texts anyway. Without plagiarism, there would be no literature. I'm a rewrite man." The poet Christoper Logue has died, aged 85. Logue had a varied career, at various points serving in the British Army (and being arrested for espionage after a drunken threat to sell secrets), writing pornography under the nom de plume Count Palmiro de Vicarion, recording George Martin-produced, "heroically daft" jazz recitals of the poems of Pablo Neruda (YT) and regularly contributing to the British satirical magazine Private Eye, where he edited Pseuds' Corner, while finding the time to be arrested again, for civil disobedience as part of Bertrand Russell's Committee of 100.

His "Loguerhythms" were performed at Peter Cook's jazz-and-satire club The Establishment by Annie Ross (YT of Ross performing with Count Basie) and he played Cardinal Richelieu in Ken Russell's (.) film The Devils (other dramatic roles included Swinburne, Socrates and "Spaghetti-eating fanatic" in Terry Gilliam's Jaberwocky).

However, he is now best-known for his much-interrupted and asynchronous modern reworking in several books of Homer's Iliad, begun in 1959 with Achilles and the River, followed up in the 60s with Patrocleia and Pax, and then abandoned for 20 years before Kings, The Husbands, War Music, All Day Permanent Red and Cold Calls were produced between 1991 and 2005.

Logue reads an extract from All Day Permanent Red.

Susha Guppy interviews Logue for the Paris Review, 1993.

Logue interviewed by Tim Kendall for Thumbscrew, 1994.
posted by running order squabble fest (14 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
The man who dared to rewrite Homer.
Setting down her topaz saucer heaped with nectarine jelly
Emptying her blood-red mouth set in her ice-white face
Teenaged Athena jumped up and shrieked:
"Kill! Kill for me!
Better to die than to live without killing!"
Who says prayer does no good?
An Interview from 2006.
Know Thy Enemy

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posted by adamvasco at 5:15 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by Renoroc at 5:20 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by a small part of the world at 5:32 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by Skygazer at 6:05 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by Mister Bijou at 6:08 AM on December 4, 2011


Logue was also one of the poets who appeared in 1965 at the Royal Albert Hall poetry "happening", International Poetry Incarnation. Other poets featured included Allen Ginsberg, Michael Horovitz, Adrian Mitchell, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the fabulous Dada-influenced Austrian poet Ernst Jandl. The show was four hours long, there is a short (30 minute) film by Peter Whitehead. Christopher Logue at the Albert Hall, 1965.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:33 AM on December 4, 2011


I first encountered Logue's poetry by chance, when I switched on the radio late one night and heard him reading War Music. It was electrifying. Do, if you haven't already done so, follow the link above to hear him reading an extract from All Day Permanent Red. You can't get the full force of the poetry unless you hear it read aloud.

The rest of Logue's poetry was more mixed in quality, but I Shall Vote Labour, written in 1966, was a disconcertingly accurate prediction of the rise of New Labour:

I shall vote Labour because if I do not vote Labour
my balls will drop off.
I shall vote Labour because
there are too few cars on the road.
I shall vote Labour because I am
a hopeless drug addict.
I shall vote Labour because
I failed to be a dollar millionaire aged three.
I shall vote Labour because Labour will build
more maximum security prisons.
I shall vote Labour because I want to shop
in an all-weather precinct stretching from Yeovil to Glasgow.
I shall vote Labour because
the Queen's stamp collection is the best in the world.
I shall vote Labour because
deep in my heart
I am a Conservative.

posted by verstegan at 6:44 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love his retelling. Probably not the ONLY version of Homer you should read, but definitely enriches the experience. You gotta love a guy who can go from throwaway Revlon copy ("All day permanent red") to the Iliad.
posted by shothotbot at 7:02 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by Verdant at 7:48 AM on December 4, 2011


...follow the link above to hear him reading an extract from All Day Permanent Red. You can't get the full force of the poetry unless you hear it read aloud. ...
posted by verstegan


I'm getting some force by reading it a bit slower. The words paint vivid images -- an animated slide show of Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalism rendered in cartoon cinematography.

Quibble:

"Sparks from the bronze, Lit splinters from the poles."

Does Homer have the bronze sparking?

"Unlike steel, bronze struck against a hard surface will not generate sparks, so it is used to make hammers, mallets, wrenches and other durable tools to be used in explosive atmospheres or in the presence of flammable vapors."
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2011


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 9:44 AM on December 4, 2011


Plus, didn't he have a cameo in Jabberwocky as one of the fanatics?
posted by scruss at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2011


Really excellent post. Makes me realize how much I've missed by not looking beyond the Iliad work.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2011


All Day Permanent Red, published when it was, brought Logue's project back into public focus, and a good thing too. He'd always occupied a position out of phase with his poetic contemporaries, never seeming to be quite respectable enough to be included in grand overviews or show up on a mainstream Eng. Lit. syllabus.

In a year when Vorticism had its retrospective at Tate Britain, I'm tempted to call him one of the last Vorticists.

A life well lived.
posted by holgate at 10:18 PM on December 4, 2011


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