Born in Bagdadi, now Mayakovsky, Georgia, the son of a forester. Grew up speaking Georgian, though taught Russian at school. Joined the Bolshevik movement in 1908, having read revolutionary pamphlets as a child. Resident in Moscow after the death of his father in 1906. Arrested for the first time in 1908, and twice arrested in 1909, on the second occasion being sent to Butyrki prison. Entered art school in 1911. Encountered the avant-garde painter David Burliuk and became one of the prime movers of the Russian Futurist movement. Met Lili Brik in 1915, having first courted her sister Elsa (later married to Louis Aragon) among others. Lived in Moscow with Lili Brik and her husband from 1915 to 1917, often threatened suicide because of difficulties in his affair' with Lili Brik, despite her complaisant husband. In Petrograd for the 1917 Revolution. Moved with the Briks to Moscow on its reinstatement as the capital of the country in 1919, where he became a public performer, film actor and poster artist. Often quarrelled publicly with the equally flamboyant poet Sergei Esenin. Endured periods of separation from Lili Brik with what little fortitude he could muster, her husband acting as peacemaker between them. Worked in advertising and propaganda from 1923 to 1925. Visited Mexico and North America in 1925, after which time he and Lili were no longer intimate. In his last years engaged in demanding lecture tours all over the Soviet Union. Fell in love with a White émigré resident in Paris, whom he wished to marry; refused an exit visa in 1927. Exhausted, depressed by public criticism of his poetry, disturbed by the failure of the First Five Year Plan and emotionally unsatisfied, he shot
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Publication information: Book title: A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets. Contributors: John Pilling - Author. Publisher: Heinemann. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1982. Page number: 243.
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