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Cold Calls: War Music Continued

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The scene is set for Cold Calls, the fifth and penultimate instalment of Logue's Homer, an ongoing project - a piece of performance-art for the page rather than the stage - which has taken several decades to unfold, and has been described as, 'Less a translation than an adaptation. Less an adaptation in fact, than an original poem of considerable power.' (Derek Mahon)


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The scene is set for Cold Calls, the fifth and penultimate instalment of Logue's Homer, an ongoing project - a piece of performance-art for the page rather than the stage - which has taken several decades to unfold, and has been described as, 'Less a translation than an adaptation. Less an adaptation in fact, than an original poem of considerable power.' (Derek Mahon)

30 review for Cold Calls: War Music Continued

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    The Iliad is like malaria for many of us (although far more pleasurable from what I understand). It sets the terms by which one can understand men and masculinity in a form that is remarkably unvarnished and yet highly polished. And of course part of the unending fun is noting its echoes in other works of art throughout the centuries, and having at least the odd chance of knowing what is going on in a painting of Nestor or a summer blockbuster movie about the Hulk. Christopher Logue, roguishly eu The Iliad is like malaria for many of us (although far more pleasurable from what I understand). It sets the terms by which one can understand men and masculinity in a form that is remarkably unvarnished and yet highly polished. And of course part of the unending fun is noting its echoes in other works of art throughout the centuries, and having at least the odd chance of knowing what is going on in a painting of Nestor or a summer blockbuster movie about the Hulk. Christopher Logue, roguishly eulogized as "Homer's rewrite man", worked on his version of the Iliad -- out of order, ahistorically cinematic, a pacifist's love-affair from afar -- from 1959 till his death aged 85 in 2011. This volume was the last to be published and covers some of the most vivid scenes of the epic, notably the wounding of Aphrodite by Diomedes and the embassy to Achilleus. Most importantly, this is the part where the various females start to openly bicker amongst themselves while Zeus tries to keep the peace... which Logue transforms into a trashy reality TV episode! Hera is the aging beauty, jealous of the younger and hotter Aphrodite, while Athena is portrayed as a goth teenager who loves violence ("better to die than to live without killing!") and sweets.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ann Klefstad

    OK I can't review it because I haven't read it yet, I hadn't heard of it, but I'm ordering it tomorrow. Logue is, in some sense, Odysseus.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

         The sea. Their feet along the sand to Agamemnon's gate. And in starlit air The Trojans singing:      "I love my wife, I love her dearly,      I love the hole she pisses through,      I love her lily-white tits      And her nut-brown arsehole,      I could eat her shit with a wooden spoon." So ... that's how this book -- and, with it, Christopher Logue's astonishing, decades-long project to recast Homer as contemporary verse -- ends. Achilles has just refused Ajax and Nestor's plea to return to the      The sea. Their feet along the sand to Agamemnon's gate. And in starlit air The Trojans singing:      "I love my wife, I love her dearly,      I love the hole she pisses through,      I love her lily-white tits      And her nut-brown arsehole,      I could eat her shit with a wooden spoon." So ... that's how this book -- and, with it, Christopher Logue's astonishing, decades-long project to recast Homer as contemporary verse -- ends. Achilles has just refused Ajax and Nestor's plea to return to the fight, and the Trojans are encamped on the plain, ready to storm the Greek ships at dawn. It's disappointing in a way, not least because Logue lived another six or seven years after finishing this book and never published another installment, even though all the blurbs promised he at work on one. Well, he's been dead four years now, and not a peep about a posthumous volume. Maybe he pulled a Virgil and left instructions for it to be destroyed because it was unfinished. So my fingers are crossed, but I'm not holding my breath. My enthusiasm for Logue's previous volume, All Day Permanent Red, has been duly recorded. Cold Calls, though, even though it picks up right where Red left off, is an entirely different poem on a very different register. Where one could delight in Red's bloody awesomeness, this next book -- written, of course, as Britain obediently followed America into the Iraqi desert -- is unmistakably anti-war. We get this several pages in, after a character named Nyro ("handsomest of all the Greeks save A.") is decapitated by Aeneas ("Took his head off his spine with a backhand slice -- Beautiful stuff ...") and his head is mounted on a pike. All bloody well and good. Then we get:      When Nyro's mother heard of this She shaved her head; she tore her frock; she went outside Ripping her fingernails through her cheeks: Then down her neck; her chest; her breasts; And bleeding to her waist ran round the shops, Sobbing:      "God, kill Troy. Console me with its death. Revenge is all I have. My boy was kind. He had his life to live. I will not have the chance to dance in Hector's blood, But let me hear some have before I die."      "I saw her running around.      I took the photograph.      It summed the situation up.      He was her son.      They put it out in colour. Right?      My picture went around the world." I know Christopher Logue isn't the first guy to make the point that war is the same today as 3,000 years ago, but hell, this works for me. At the same time, our image of the Olympian deities has degenerated to the point where they now behave like characters in one of the trashier reality programs. Here is Aphrodite ("god of tops and thongs") speaking to Zeus during one of the family squabbles:      "Stuff Greece," Love said. "Your blubber-bummed wife with her gobstopper nipples Hates Troy because Troy's Paris put her last When we stripped off for him.      As for the Ithacan boat-boy's undercurved preceptatrix, She hates Troy because my statue stands on its acropolis." As I said, this book is apparently how Logue's Homer project ended. Its main disappointment, for me, is that it leaves me wanting more. It's not that I expected Logue to "translate" the entire epic; it just would have been nice to have it end on a more definitive note. Logue's poetry satisfies a thirst I didn't know I had for poetry like this: kinetic, headlong, throbbing with life and energy. I can't get enough. N.B.: I read this poem not in the Faber edition -- only published in the U.K., though you can probably still order it over the Internet -- but in this volume of Poetry magazine, still on my shelves:                 I had flipped through it when I first got it -- the first time I ever heard of Logue, probably -- but with little interest, not really knowing what the point was. So I'm glad I hung on to it. Going through it again made me a bit nostalgic for those days. The years from '03 to '05 or '06 were a mini golden age for that rich little magazine.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Terence Hawkins

    In this installment of his decades-long "account" of the Iliad Logue may have reached a tipping point. In his earlier works---"Kings"; "War Music"; "The Husbands"; "All Day Permanent Red"---modern metaphor is entirely effective. For example in "War Music" Menelaus' helmeted head scans the horizon like a radio telescope. Works for me. In this book Aphrodite wears gray silk lounge pajamas and snakeskin flipflops. Doesn't work for me. Especially when Aphrodite has been called "Goddess of Tops and T In this installment of his decades-long "account" of the Iliad Logue may have reached a tipping point. In his earlier works---"Kings"; "War Music"; "The Husbands"; "All Day Permanent Red"---modern metaphor is entirely effective. For example in "War Music" Menelaus' helmeted head scans the horizon like a radio telescope. Works for me. In this book Aphrodite wears gray silk lounge pajamas and snakeskin flipflops. Doesn't work for me. Especially when Aphrodite has been called "Goddess of Tops and Thongs." I'll read any further installment with pleasure---Logue's gifts are otherwise undiminished--- but I think he's gone a little too far out on the limb.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)

    Brilliant, just brilliant! I love Christopher Logue's approach to his interpretation of Homer's The Iliad. These little volumes of poetry are well worth reading on an annual basis, and I'm saddened to to realize that Logue's poetic voice has been silenced upon his death in late-2011. I will always treasure my collection of his 'Iliad' poetry, including War Music, Cold Calls, and All Day Permanent Red.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    "His head was opened, egglike, at the back, Mucked with thick blood, blood trickling from his mouth. His last words were: 'My Prince, your trumpeter has lost his breath.'"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tarragon Smith

    This and the other volumes are perfect poetic narrative. An arrow pierces and mans throat like a lipstick.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Hm. Didn't like this one as much as War Music. It came off as trying a bit too hard. But it could be because I am not familiar with the story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Neal

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Robbins

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Rounds

  12. 5 out of 5

    Owen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neil Jones

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tim Cooper

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clif

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arden Aoide

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cornelia Bullock

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

  23. 4 out of 5

    Feudist

  24. 4 out of 5

    karen m vance

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lachlan Campbell Type

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mikael

    like napalm death in verse

  27. 5 out of 5

    Armchair

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rik Roots

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

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