Jacques Réda

With Jacques RédaOn 12 September, I had the great honor and pleasure of participating in an event celebrating the work of the eminent French poet, psychogeographer and jazz critic Jacques Réda. Alongside Réda himself, on a rare visit to London from Paris, were his translator - Jennie Feldman - and Sasha Dugdale, editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, soon to publish an issue containing a featured interview with the writer. Poets Tamar Yoseloff and Helen Mort, both of whom have also contributed prose to the Mount London anthology, gave readings and I debuted a work-in-progress piece recontextualizing part of Réda’s great book of psychogeographic prose poems, Ruins of Paris, onto contemporary London. Working on something based on Réda’s writing, even in translation, is an education. His quiet examinations of tiny moments of subtlety and banality force one to abandon any 'bigger' picture and, in doing so, allow that grand structure to seep in unnoticed. It's as though he's written a lengthy treatise on each subject - suburban ennui, urban confusion, the temporal vagaries of life within certain architectures - each buoyed with a personal anecdote; then he throws away everything but the anecdote. The result is a series of seemingly minor tales which prop up nothing but themselves, creating a world for the reader to populate. The piece I've written is 'in-progress' because I can't seem to escape those structures; can't seem to allow the piece to follow through without explanation. And that's vital: the tone and content of the piece, a prose poem about a simple walk through East London, are certainly in my voice, but the new lessons gleaned from Réda’s are necessary to make it work as tribute. It'll get there (he said over-confidently), but it's gonna take a minute. Once it does, the piece will be recorded with music from a London composer (can't quite reveal the name yet!) and released as a 10-minute audio work through the Institut Francais. More on all that soon...

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