Christopher Logue’s Poster Poems To Stop Your Balls From Falling Off

“I have never been part of the London literary scene. My time has been passed with painters, antique dealers, musicians, booksellers, journalists, actors, and film people. I find it natural to collaborate with others on such things as posters, songs, films, shows. This is unusual in literary London” – Christopher Logue (1993)

 

10th March 1958:  Poet, playwright and actor Christopher Logue.  (Photo by Alan Meek/Express/Getty Images)

10th March 1958: Poet, playwright and actor Christopher Logue. (Photo by Alan Meek/Express/Getty Images)

 

In 1958 Christopher Logue wrote To My Fellow Artists. This anti-nuclear poem was published in the The New Statesman and Nation. He was invited to recite the poem between films at the second Free Cinema Festival at the National Theatre.

An idea struck him. Putting the poem on a poster would bring it to a wider audience. As he writes in Manifesto: “Posters call you. So do poems… A poem unable to live on a poster / Is no poem.” He contacted designer Germano Facetti. They got to work, spreading the word by leaving a stack of the posters in the lobby at the Royal Court Theatre. 

 

Peter Cook by the building at 18 Greek Street, Soho, venues of The Establishment Club (1961-1964). “My dread in my last year in Cambridge was that somebody else would have this very obvious idea to do political cabaret uncensored by the Lord Chamberlain. I thought it was a certainty.” Via

Peter Cook by the building at 18 Greek Street, Soho, venues of The Establishment Club (1961-1964). “My dread in my last year in Cambridge was that somebody else would have this very obvious idea to do political cabaret uncensored by the Lord Chamberlain. I thought it was a certainty.” Via

 

Facetti introduced Logue to Peter Cook’s Establishment Club. There Logue met more artists with whom he’d collaborate: Derek Boshier, Pauline Boty and Colin Self among others. He’d also write songs for Annie Ross to perform at the satirical nightspot and the True Stories column for Private Eye, the satirical magazine Cook funded.

 

1st March 1956:  Annie Ross, Hugh Bryant,  Anthony Newley and Gilbert Vernon star as 'Cranks' at Martins Theatre.  (Photo by Denis De Marney/Getty Images)

1st March 1956: Annie Ross, Hugh Bryant, Anthony Newley and Gilbert Vernon star as ‘Cranks’ at Martins Theatre. (Photo by Denis De Marney/Getty Images)

 

As Clive James put it: “As its name satirically suggested, The Establishment was an anti-Establishment establishment.”

 

English film actor Trevor Howard (1916 - 1988) with friends at at the opening night of 'The Establishment' - Peter Cook's satire club in Soho, London, 6th October 1961. Left to right: Brian Longhurst, Helen Cherry, Mrs Longhurst and Trevor Howard. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

English film actor Trevor Howard (1916 – 1988) with friends at at the opening night of ‘The Establishment’ – Peter Cook’s satire club in Soho, London, 6th October 1961. Left to right: Brian Longhurst, Helen Cherry, Mrs Longhurst and Trevor Howard. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

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Logue believed in the power of poetry as a form of experience independent of other knowledge – ” Shakespeare never went to Venice, Homer never went to Troy, Dante never went to Hell.”

 

Artist and actress Pauline Boty (1938 - 1966) stars as 'the girl with the golden bra' in the Frank Hilton comedy 'Day of the Prince' at the Royal Court Theatre, 13th May 1963. Rehearsing with her are Christopher Sandford (left) and Bernard Bresslaw (1934 - 1993). (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Artist and actress Pauline Boty (1938 – 1966) stars as ‘the girl with the golden bra’ in the Frank Hilton comedy ‘Day of the Prince’ at the Royal Court Theatre, 13th May 1963. Rehearsing with her are Christopher Sandford (left) and Bernard Bresslaw (1934 – 1993). (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

Logue would return to the Royal Court for his show Trials by Logue, consisting of two of this plays, Antigone and The Trial of Cob and Leach. The plays starred Mary Ure and George Rose and opened at the Royal Court Theatre on 23 November 1960.

 

Actors Peter Fraser, Tony Selby, Zoe Caldwell, George Rose and Mary Ure, rehearsing for the play 'Trials by Logue', at the Royal Court Theatre, London, November 22nd 1960. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

Actors Peter Fraser, Tony Selby, Zoe Caldwell, George Rose and Mary Ure, rehearsing for the play ‘Trials by Logue’, at the Royal Court Theatre, London, November 22nd 1960. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

 

Tom Salter published and sold the posers in his Carnaby Street Shop, Gear.

 

A woman doing some dusting in the Carnaby Street shop 'Gear'.   (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

A woman doing some dusting in the Carnaby Street shop ‘Gear’. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

 

And they sold well. Logue’s 1966’s poster poem I Shall Vote Labour sold over 30,000 copies.

 

 

 

Paul Gormanis:

…at the prompting of Soho bookseller Bernard Stone, Logue created I Shall Vote Labour to coincide with Britain’s 1964 general election. In his highly readable memoir Prince Charming, Logue – who died in 2011 – relates that he was among several writers approached by the left-wing weekly Tribune to compose 200 words on why they were going to vote for the Labour Party.

“I settled down to do as requested, giving the usual (correct) answers,” wrote Logue. “Suddenly I was sick of the irritating pleasure this list of wants gave me. To replace it, I wrote the poem consisting of some silly, some sarcastic, reasons for doing so.”

An extract:

I shall vote Labour because if I don’t somebody else will …

I shall vote Labour because if I do not vote Labour my balls will drop off …

I shall vote Labour because I am a hopeless drug addict …

I shall vote Labour because Labour will build more maximum security prisons …

I shall vote Labour because deep in my heart I am a Conservative

 

Christopher Logue Poster Poem Christopher Logue Poster Poem Christopher Logue Poster Poem Christopher Logue Poster Poem Christopher Logue Poster Poem

 

Christopher Logue Poster Poem

 

Logue’s  posters are displayed at Rob Tufnell Gallery, London, through November 7 2015.

Christopher Logue, poet, born 23 November 1926; died 2 December 2011

Via: Paris Review