Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Long Poem Magazine issue 8

In September, Long Poem Magazine is set to publish an appraisal of Christopher Logue's longer works.

Here are the opening paragraphs which were cut for focusing on his biography too much:

Logue's Long Players - The Girls, New Numbers and War Music

As a boy, Christopher Logue attended the hyper-religious De La Salle Brothers’ St John’s College in Southsea. It was there that Brother John told him,

Every part of a cathedral, including its roof, is holy. Few besides God will ever see the rooftop carvings, while the common people, whose labour paid for the building, knew in their hearts that the carvings were up there, safe in the sight of God until Judgement day.

These words struck home: ‘From now on, whatever I did, I would do in that spirit. For its own sake. For no other reason. As the medieval carvers had carved for God. No justification was needed. None would be offered. That I did not know what I wanted to do was unimportant.’[i]

This adamance and singularity held Logue in good, or bad, stead all his life. Why should he share the pages of a book with two other Penguin New Poets? He was principled: it was he who wrote a letter to the Times Literary Supplement detailing instances of what he considered anti-semitism in T.S. Eliot’s writing; he who turned down an approach for poems by Brian Patten which had the gall to address him as ‘Chris;’ and he whose autobiography – the terrific Prince Charming (1999) – led A.N. Wilson to write: ‘This is a book that makes me think not merely that poets are shits, but that I really hate left-wing people.’[ii]   
Logue was a one-off: his military service ended in court-martial, jail and the loss of sight in his left eye; his friendships numbered Alexander Trocchi, Ken Tynan and Lyndsay Anderson among them; his loose adaptation of love poems by Neruda was released as an EP with backing by the Tony Kinsey Quintet, and produced by George Martin; his satirical songs were performed by Annie Ross at Peter Cook’s The Establishment; and his anti-nuclear lobby ‘To My Fellow Artists’ – issued free, weighted down by a stone beside a sign reading ‘please take one’ – was the first poster poem.

[i] Prince Charming, p25

[ii] ‘I’ll crush you with my Daimler!’ A.N. Wilson LRB 16 March 2000

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