|Born||Leszek Józef Serafinowicz
March 13, 1899
Warsaw, Congress Poland
|Died||June 8, 1956
New York, United States
|Resting place||Forest Cemetery in Laski|
Leszek Józef Serafinowicz (pen name: Jan Lechoń; Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, March 13, 1899 – June 8, 1956, New York City) was a Polish poet, literary and theater critic, diplomat, and co-founder of the Skamander literary movement and the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America.
Lechoń studied Polish language and literature at Warsaw University, by which point he had already authored two collections of poetry and a play. He was co-editor of Pro arte et studio magazine. It was he who thought of the name Skamander for that literary group; he also delivered the opening speech at the group's first meeting, on 6 December 1919. During the Polish-Soviet War (1919–21) he worked in the press office of Chief of State Józef Piłsudski.
Lechoń was a member of the Pikador (Picador) literary cabaret, a member of the Polish Writers' Union, and secretary-general of the PEN Club. In 1926-29 he edited the satirical magazine Cyrulik Warszawski (The Barber of Warsaw—the title was an homage to The Barber of Seville). In 1925 he received an award from the Polish Book Publishers' Association, and in 1935 an award from the Polish Academy of Literature.
From 1930 to 1939 Lechoń was cultural attaché at the Polish embassy in Paris. After the fall of France to Nazi Germany, he left for Brazil and later settled in New York. There he co-edited many Polish newspapers and magazines and, in 1942, co-founded the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America.
Lechoń committed suicide on 8 June 1956 by jumping from the twelfth floor of the Hudson Hotel. At the time his motive for doing so was given as depression deepened by "social degradation". The memoirs of his friend Adam Ciołkosz point to depression caused by the strengthening of the communist regime in Poland.
Lechoń made his literary debut at the age of 14 with poetry collections entitled Na złotym polu (1913, In a golden field) and Po różnych ścieżkach (1914, On different paths). In 1916, his drama W pałacu Stanisława Augusta (At the palace of Stanisław August) premiered at the Old Orangery in Warsaw. His poetry collection Srebrne i czarne (Silver and black) earned him an award from the Polish Book Publishers' Association. However, growing interest in Lechoń's work and his successes in the field of poetry negatively influenced him. He found his growing status as a legend overwhelming and didn't publish further until the outbreak of World War II.
Poland's wartime demise awakened in him the passion to continue writing. He published Lutnia po Bekwarku in 1942 and Aria z kurantem in 1945, as well as Marmur i róża. Other works include Karmazynowy poemat and Iliada.