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Christopher Logue, 23 November 1926 - 2 December 2011

Dennis Gould surveys the life of the radical poet

One of the most important poems of the 20th century was Christopher Logue’s “To My Fellow Artists”, first printed in the New Statesman in 1958 and published by Logue as a posterpoem designed by Germano Facetti shortly afterwards. This was followed in the mid-’60s by half a dozen others including “Be Not So Hard”, “London”, “Crime One”, “Goodnight Ladies” and “I Shall Vote Labour”.

Logue took part in the famous International Poetry Incarnation gig at the Albert Hall in 1965 where 7,000 people turned up to hear everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Yevtushenko. Invited by film directors Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz to the Independent show at the Film Institute, Logue read “To My Fellow Artists” between films, his first live poetry reading. In Logue’s autobiography Prince Charming: A memoir, five years in Paris in the early 1950s find him teaching English and meeting Patrick Bowles and Samuel Beckett, writing a novel (Lust) under the pseudonym Count Palmiro Vicarion and contributing to the magazine Merlin. Returning in 1956, he found London a changed society. He visited the Royal Court Theatre and eventually was invited to rewrite songs for Harry Cookson’s play, The Lily White Boys. Much troubled by the Bomb, he joined the first Aldermaston march in 1958. Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz made the brilliant film March to Aldermaston that year; the commentary read by Richard Burton was written by Logue. He then joined Bertrand Russell and Herbert Read in the nonviolent direct action group, the Committee of 100.

He was one of some 40 members imprisoned for one month in 1961 for organising blockades at US airbases. He made a brilliant record (EP and LP) called Red Bird (based on Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) which had great reviews – with Tony Kinsey’s Jazz Quartet providing backing. It is one of the best English poetry and jazz recordings (produced by George Martin, later of Beatles fame).

But perhaps his best-known works are his interpretations of several books of Homer’s Iliad, collected in 2001 as War Music. Both his major books of poems New Numbers and Ode To The Dodo, published by Jonathan Cape, are now unfortunately out of print.

Christopher Logue and Adrian Mitchell are both in the anthology Visions of Poesy published by Freedom Press in 1994. SALUT Christopher Logue.

Dennis Gould is a poet and former Peace News staffer. For a copy of Dennis’ version of the posterpoem ‘To My Fellow Artists’, please send £5 to Dennis Gould, 2 Co-Flats, 59 Lansdown, Stroud, Glos GL5 1BN.