Translator's notes

Three poems by Léon Laleau

By Léon Laleau

These are poems of youth, and wild oats: the poems of a writer whose Springtime was Paris. They are also the poems of a young man apart: whose colour and poetic calling, exile and gentle aristocracy left him lonely amidst the Jazz Crowd’s clamour for his attentions. It is in these attentions that Laleau found his early subjects: what it meant to be ‘black’, the mechanics of sexual desire, the boredom of overindulgence, and the ‘muffled pain’ of thought amongst the riot. Laleau’s grandson, Pierre, wrote to me that ‘Grandfather was a bit of a tiger in his time’, and that ‘he kept a photograph of an unknown girl on his writing desk all his life’. It is in this ache of memory that these poems come to have their deepest resonance.

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