Blaise Cendrars was a Swiss-born novelist and poet who became a naturalized French citizen in 1916. He began writing in 1904 whilst apprenticed to a Swiss watchmaker in Russia. After much travelling he returned to Paris in 1912 convinced that poetry was his vocation; it was here that he became acquainted with the international community of artists and writers living in Paris at that time, most notably Guillaume Apollinaire. Cendrars is credited as one of the first to introduce modernity into European poetry. At the outbreak of the First World War he joined the French Foreign Legion and was at the front line in the Somme from December 1914 to February 1915. In September 1915 during the attacks in Champagne he was wounded and lost his right arm, leading to his discharge from the army.
Returning to Paris he became an important part of the Montparnasse artistic community, becoming friends with Henry Miller, Modgliani and John Dos Passos before becoming involved in the film industry in Italy, France and the United States.
Blaise Cendrars’ Poetry