July 02, 2009

Magloire-Saint-Aude, the lonely rebel

In the forties and fifties, the Haitian poet Clément Magloire Saint-Aude (1912-1971) was a singular figure, that of a rebellious and solitary writer. He devoted his life to journalism and lived in a poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, whose nightlife inspired him. In 1941, he published in quick succession two collections, Dialogue de mes lampes (Dialogue of my lamps) and Tabou (Taboo). His writing, abstruse and opaque, caused the admiration of the Surrealists, including André Breton who met him in December 1945. The Haitian writer, despite his new celebrity, refused to commit himself publicly and pursued his solitary adventure. In 1949, he wrote a novel, Parias in which he outlined the circles he saw. In 1956 is published Déchu (Fallen), his latest collection of poetry. He gradually lapsed into alcohol. François Duvalier, President of the Haitien Republic, granted him in 1967 a monthly allowance to keep him up. Magloire-Saint-Aude then hardly wrote except a few articles often virulent. He died in 1971 leaving, as the only trace of his secret life, a work of great and dazzling poetry.

Aux exploits du poète las,
Mon vitrail disloqué
Aux rails de la mélodie.

Pour ma belle fille naufragée,
Tel l'harmonica du voyou.

Vers l'araignée fêlée
des stances moissonnées.

Sur le buvard aveugle
De mes talents éteints.

quote from the collection Déchu.

Currently, the librairie loliée offers :
  • Magloire-Saint-Aude. Dialogue de mes lampes suivi de Tabou et de Déchu. Illustrations de Wifredo Lam, Hervé Télémaque, Jorge Camacho. Paris, chez Jacques Veuillet, collection « Première personne », 1970, in-8. First collective edition illustrated with 3 figures from the etchings of Jorge Camacho, Wifredo Lam and Hervé Télémaque.