This is just fantastic. I'm quite an avid poetry reader, but I can honestly say that it's rare to come across something so compelling. 'War Music' sucks you in and pulls you along, surfing on a roller-coaster wave of ultra-violent verbs, mordant-wit and breathtakingly cinematic imagery. If this sounds like hyperbole - it's justified. Logue's 'versioning' of episodes from Homer's Iliad is one of the great works of modern literature, offering a window into a brutal, alien world and a mirror to our own voyeuristic culture, where wars unfold on rolling news and our own Gods and Goddesses bask in the sickly sheen of celebrity. I can think of few contemporary poets who can manipulate the blank iambic line with such effortless aplomb - this really is 'Music' in its truest sense - Logue's lines sing. There are echoes of Pound (minus the obscurity), Old English alliterative verse, the photographic zen of haiku and even the scatological slang of a Tarantino film-script. If there is a criticism, it is perhaps that this is unashamedly male writing, although this is as much a reflection of the original Greek as anything. It's muscular and visceral, and when emotions arise, they do so bare-chested with a howl at the moon. It's got balls. It is, perhaps the mark of any great piece of writing to leave you begging for more. 'War Music' ends just as Achilles rejoins the conflict following the death of Patroclus - we are left with the image of a 'spear stuck in the stand'. Sadly, following Logue's death, it will always remain just that - a marker pointing to a future that will never come.
Logue completed two subsequent volumes, 'All Day Permanent Red' and 'Cold Calls'; the first deals with the early skirmishes of the war - if anything the grand guignol splatter-core is raised to a feverish tempo, including a brilliant sequence that borrows from Celine's own 'Guignol's Band'; the second slots oddly between the original 'War Music' sequence and 'Patrocleia' and features some uncharacteristically poignant moments peppered in between Olympian pornography and yet more feverish slash and burn. Both are essential.
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