Like Dylan Thomas, who when asked what made poetry work replied: ‘The sound of it . . . !’, Jacques Réda writes a musical poetry that makes language dance. A respected jazz critic, he insists that if poetry is to survive it will not be due to conferences, confessions, or poetological ‘logomancies’, but by reclaiming its ‘rhythm, or better still, le swing’.
Réda is a Parisian Iain Sinclair, a flâneurin the tradition of Baudelaire and Benjamin, whose poetry and prose reflect a lifelong fascination with the city. With their leitmotifs of the sky, the streets, and the passers-by, the poems gathered here reveal a relaxed, thoughtful poet acutely observant of life around, above and before him.
I wondered, when Anvil told me about the Réda volume, why I recognised his name. Reason: back in 1996, Reaktion Books published Réda's wonderful The Ruins of Paris in their excellent Topographics series.
One of last month's Book of the Month was Robert Pogue Harrison's stunning The Dominion of the Dead (which I notice Steve is reading too). Reaktion also publish Ken Worpole's Last Landscapes: The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West which makes a good companion piece to Harrison's book.
I hope to be interviewing both Robert and Ken here on RSB very soon ...