The British Library has acquired the archive of Christopher Logue, one of the great modern British poets. Comprising 22 boxes of private papers, along with 53 files of drafts, working materials and correspondence relating to War Music, and annotated printed books, the archive offers insight into the work and mind of a unique writer.
This December sees two important events to mark the 10th anniversary of his death. Logue’s own reading of his best-known work War Music, a retelling of the Iliad through the eye of a committed pacifist, and created over 45 years, will be released on audiobook by Blackstone Publishing and the British Library is holding a special event in his memory on 5 December.
The Arrival of the Poet in the Library, British Library, 15.00-16.30 on 5 December
This special live in-person event will feature appreciations and recollections given by some of Logue’s closest collaborators, as well as readings performed by Harriet Walter and guests including Jon Hegley, Christopher Reid and Tariq Ali.
The British Library’s acquisition of Logue’s archive was made possible with a generous contribution from the British Library Collections Trust.
War Music - Audiobook released by Blackstone Publishing
The audiobook is Christopher Logue’s own reading of his work. Described by Tom Holland as ‘one of the remarkable and idiosyncratic works of postwar British literature’ War Music is a dramatic poem based on Homer’s Iliad, divided into three parts: Kings, The Husbands and War Music. Begun in 1959 and commissioned in the first instance by BBC Radio’s Third Programme, the text of War Music remained incomplete at his death. A limited edition CD edition was released in 2001 in the Audiologue CD box set. This is the first time the recording of War Music will be available as an audiobook for a general audience. Download from audible.co.uk or audible.com
Logue’s widow, Rosemary Hill, says ‘Christopher was an actor as well as a poet. He believed poetry should be performed, as it had been in Homer’s day, and from the 1950s he was a pioneer of poetry readings. He wrote poems to be read to jazz accompaniment, to be set to music and to be printed on posters. He wanted poetry to be part of everybody’s life.’
Rachel Foss, Head of Contemporary Archives and Manuscripts at the British Library, says ‘We are thrilled to have acquired the archive of Christopher Logue for the nation. Logue’s manuscript notebooks and drafts of War Music are phenomenally detailed and extensive. I have rarely seen drafts that evidence a writer’s working methods and the process of creative production with such depth: the potential they offer for researchers is exceptional. This acquisition builds significantly on the British Library’s collections of contemporary poetry archives, both manuscripts and sound recordings. We are looking forward to making the archive available to everyone to inspire research, learning, enjoyment and even, perhaps, the poets of tomorrow.’
To mark the 10th anniversary of the gallery Rob Tufnell will be temporarily transforming his space in Cologne into a second-hand bookshop devoted to books published by Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press (1953-1973). Girodias (1919-1990) made – and lost – a fortune selling transgressive, erotic novels to American GIs and English-speaking tourists in Paris in the years after the Second World War. Several of these books were written by respected literary figures who worked under pseudonyms provided by Girodias, including Count Palmiro Vicarion for Christopher Logue. Alongside books for sale in both English and German will be changing displays of tangentially related graphic works and posters by artists including Logue. The exhibit runs from 1 June - 21 December, with Christopher Logue featured from 6-27 September, with the opening date to coincide with 'DC Open', a weekend of parties in galleries in Dusseldorf and Cologne. For further information including opening times, dates, and displays, visit the gallery website HERE.
Speaking of Rob Tufnell gallery events, a previous exhibit in London featuring the work of Derek Boshier, a pioneering artist of the 1960s British Pop movement included collaborative works between Boshier and Christopher Logue. The journalist, author and commentator on visual culture Paul Gorman documented the exhibit on his website, which can be found HERE.
With Derek at Christopher Logue Poster Poems at London gallery Rob Tufnell yesterday. To our right is Pop Song, one of three Boshier/Logue collaborations.
The manuscript for Logue’s War Music took the form of notes variously attached to long sheets of printer paper on which he would plan out the next stages of the poem. One of these, over 5 metres long, is included in the exhibition ‘Babel: adventures in translation’ at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 15-February-16 June, 2019. Get details HERE.
Described as 'Classical Music with Rocks In', podcast THE INNOCENT EAR broadcast 'Rat, O Rat' and Donovan Leitch's setting of 'Be not too hard' on the show the 25th January. Listeners can catch up on past episodes of the podcast at Mixcloud by clicking HERE.
For the second half of his long life, Christopher Logue (1926-2011) – political rebel, inventor of the poster poem, pioneer of poetry and jazz – was at work on a very different project: a rewriting of Homer’s Iliad. The volumes that appeared from War Music (1981) onwards were distinct from translations, in that they set out to be a radical reimagining and reconfiguration of Homer’s tale of warfare, human folly and the power of the gods, in a language and style of verse that were emphatically modern. As each instalment, from Kings to Cold Calls, was published, it became clear that this was to be Logue’s masterpiece.
Sadly, illness prevented him from finishing it. Enough, however, of his projected final volume, Big Men Falling a Long Way, survives in notebook drafts to give a clear sense of its shape, as well as some of its dramatic high points. These have been gathered into an appendix by Logue’s friend and one-time editor, Christopher Reid. The result comes as near as possible to representing the poet’s complete vision, and confirms what his admirers have long known, that Collected War Music is one of the great poems of our time.
To purchase your copy of Collected War Music, visit the Faber and Faber website.
Christopher Logue recorded two CD albums of his poems in 1996 and these were released in 2001 in a limited edition CD box set of 500 copies titled Audiologue, which also included four CD albums containing his reading of his dramatic poem War Music and a single CD of his poems set to music, including the EP Red Bird and the LP Loguerhythms.
For the first time, the two albums of Selected Poems are now available to download from another online stores, including, iTunes, Amazon, 7digital and Spotify:
All the poems on these albums were written between 1954 and 1985 and were published in Selected Poems by Faber & Faber in 1996, chosen and arranged by Christopher Reid.
Jeffrey Brown of The New York Times Magazine looks at ‘War Music,’ by Christopher Logue, 26 February, 2016. Access the article HERE.
The Telegraph's Alice Oswald on Christopher Logue's War Music, 23 December 2015. Access the article HERE.
Wyatt Mason of the New York Times Magazine writes a Letter of Recommendation: Christopher Logue, ‘War Music’, 18 November, 2015. Access the article HERE.
Christopher Logue’s Poster Poems By Dan Piepenbring, web editor of the Paris Review, looks at Christopher Logue's poster poems. Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review. 12 October, 2015. Access the article HERE.
August Kleinzahler of the London Review of Books remembers Christopher Logue, 19 December 2011. Access the article HERE
Christopher Logue, The Art of Poetry No. 66, interviewed by Shusha Guppy in The Paris Review, Summer 1993. Access the article HERE.
Collected War Music, comprising the previously published volumes and drafts for their completion, edited with an introduction by Christopher Reid, was published in 2016 by Faber & Faber.
It coincided with the National Theatre of Wales's dramatisation under the title 'Iliad.'
There was an exhibition of Christopher Logue's poster poems in 2015-16 and it is hoped to tour in the future.