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Vladimir Mayakovsky (Russia)

Vladimir Mayakovsky was born in April 1893 in Georgia, but moved with his family to Moscow in 1906 after the premature death of his father. In Moscow, he became involved in the activities of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (the Bolsheviks) and was imprisoned on three occasions for subversive political activities, although he avoided transportation because he was so young. In 1911, he joined the Moscow Art School where he became acquainted with members of the Russian Futurist movement - it was in the Futurist publication, A Slap in the Face of Public Taste (1912), that his first poems were published - although he was expelled from the Art School in 1914 because of his political activities. His reputation as a poet, both in Russia and abroad, was established in the period leading up to the Russian Revolution, with his first major poem, A Cloud in Trousers, appearing in 1915, the same year in which he fell in love with his publisher's wife, Lily Brik. Rejected as a volunteer at the beginning of the First World War, Mayakovsky worked at the Petrograd Military Automobile School as a draughtsman, and was in Petrograd to witness the October Revolution. Moving back to Moscow, he worked for the Russian State Telegraph Agency (ROSTA), creating satirical Agitprop posters, and in 1919, he published his first full collection, Collected Works 1909-1919. Mayakovsky's popularity grew rapidly, both at home and abroad and, as one of the few Soviet writers allowed to travel freely, he visited Latvia, Britain, Germany, the USA, Mexico and Cuba, as well as travelling extensively in the Soviet Union itself. His influence on perceptions of poetry in early 20th century culture is hard to over-estimate. Towards the end of the 1920s, Mayakovsky became increasingly disillusioned with Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union, as his satirical plays The Bedbug (1929) and The Bathhouse (1930) attest, and in April 1930, he shot himself.