Boris Poplavsky

Picture of Author Boris Poplavsky
Photo from a posthumous edition of Poplavsky's work.

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About the author

Boris Poplavsky (1903–1935) was born in Moscow, but emigrated with his family to Paris, via Constantinople, after the October Revolution. He began publishing his work in emigré publications in 1928, and published the collection Flags in Paris in 1931—the only collection of his verse to be published during the poet's lifetime. Something of an eternal student who found it difficult to hold down a regular job, Poplavsky suffered from a neurotic condition and took drugs from an early age. He also lived in Berlin for two years, studying painting. After many years in penury, and after his fiancé Natalia Stolyarova returned to the USSR, he died of a heroin overdose in 1935, and is buried in Paris. His work was forgotten for several decades, but has in recent years begun to be reclaimed, starting with the publication of a new edition of Flags in Tomsk. Apart from poetry, Poplavsky wrote a number of essays and articles on religious, literary and philosophical affairs, as well art- and book-reviews. He has been claimed to be the only Russian surrealist, although it would seem more appropriate to classify him as a French surrealist who wrote in Russian, moving easily between the two cultures as he did.

(Information drawn from Constantin V. Ponomareff: One Less Hope — Essays on Twentieth Century Russian Poets (Rodopi, Amsterdam).

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