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Vladmir Mayakovsky
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Poet
    (July 19, 1893-April 14, 1930)
    Born in Baghdati, Georgia
    Poet, playwright and actor
    Member of the Russian Futurist group
    Poems include 'A Cloud in Trousers,' 'Backbone Flute,' 'The War and the World,' 'The Man,' 'About That,' 'Vladimir Ilyich Lenin' and 'All Right!'
    Wrote the plays 'Vladimir Mayakovsky' (1914), 'The Bedbug' (1929) and 'The Bathhouse' (1930)
    Edited the journal 'LEF'
    Wrote and appeared in the silent film 'The Young Lady and the Hooligan' (1918)
    He got expelled from art school following a Futurist tour of Russia that provoked audience outrage, with the police often stopping the poetry readings (1914).
    He had a long-term affair with Lilya Brik, the wife of the publisher of his poems.
    During a trip to New York, he fathered a daughter out of wedlock with Russian emigre Elli Jones (1925).
    He wrote propaganda for the Soviet regime.
    Fellow poets Boris Pasternak and Marina Tsvetayeva felt the quality of his poems suffered as a result of his focus on politics.
    He reportedly committed suicide over his mistress' refusal to leave her husband for him.
    After his death, he was transformed into a 'poet of the Revolution' through heavy censorship, with his most controversial and personal works being suppressed.
    The city of his birth was renamed in his honor (1940), but reverted back to its original name after the Soviet Union disintegrated.
    He spent eleven months in solitary confinement after being caught trying to smuggle female political prisoners out of jail (1909).
    His publisher, Osip Brik, did not seem to mind his affair with Lilya, and remained good friends with the poet.
    His support for the Soviet government was not reciprocated (at least while he was alive), with Lenin calling his poems 'pretentious and dodgy.'
    After he satirized Soviet bureaucracy in his plays 'The Bedbug' and 'The Bathhouse,' he became the target of a smear campaign in the press.
    Over 150,000 mourners attended his funeral, making it the third largest in Soviet history, exceeded only by those of Lenin and Stalin.
    There was speculation that he was actually murdered by the Soviet authorities.
    The officer investigating his suicide was himself killed ten days later.
    He influenced poets Pablo Neruda and Nazim Hikmet.

Credit: C. Fishel


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