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Taxi Drivers (Berlin 1931) by Paul Sutton - Review

May 31, 2016

 

On an average taxi journey, a talkative cabbie has his fare trapped in frequently one-way conversation for between ten and twenty minutes.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson kept his shutter set at 1/125 of a second, capturing life as the light changed.

 

Paul Sutton’s chapbook ‘Taxi Drivers (Berlin, 1931’) captures precise images that provoke journeys, unwanted conversations and contain short bursts of polemic so beloved of taxi drivers in black, yellow and rust-bucket third world cars.

 

Sutton seeks to ‘unpick and explore’ a ‘decisive moment’ in four photographs by Bresson alongside poems which rage against the pomposity of the literary world and liberal hypocrisy.

 

He does so with the air of an impostor, a poet throwing his voice and invariably hitting the target.

 

A taxi driver takes images, words, and ideas to present a unique worldview, like some sort of subject-roving poet driving us to our lives through his.

 

I was in a New York cab travelling to JFK at New Year; the personable Ukranian immigrant taxi driver gave us some chit-chat to start with, then as we crossed the river said.

 

‘Thank God for Donald Trump, Trump paid for this bridge when it was falling down, and he did it without a single day lost to strikes.’

 

Rather than give him my 4 am critique of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a frosty atmosphere and a meagre tip cemented our brief relationship.

 

On the flight back to Heathrow mind you, his words make me think, challenge my own opinions, look at the world in a slightly a different way, much like being in the back of ‘Taxi Drivers’ as Sutton leans over his shoulder, through the gap in the perspex pane, to let us know that ‘some maggots I’ve heard even follow us for days’.

 

 

Taxi Drivers  (Berlin 1931) by Paul Sutton is published by Red Ceilings Press.

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