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Venturesome poet Andrei Voznesensky dies at 77

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008 file picture Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, presents Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky with a state award at the Kremlin in Moscow. Well known Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky has died at home on Tuesday, June 1, 2010. He was 77. FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008 file picture Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, presents Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky with a state award at the Kremlin in Moscow. Well known Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky has died at home on Tuesday, June 1, 2010. He was 77. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service, file)
By Jim Heintz
Associated Press Writer / June 1, 2010

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MOSCOW—Andrei Voznesensky, one of the most daring and popular poets of the Soviet era, has died. He was 77.

Voznesensky died at his home on Tuesday, said Gennady Ivanov, the secretary of Russia's Writers Union. He wouldn't give the cause of death, but some Russian media reports said that the poet had suffered a second stroke earlier this year.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a letter of condolences, and other top officials and cultural figures praised Voznesensky's contribution to the Russian culture.

Voznesensky was one of the so-called "children of the '60s," a generation of thinkers who tasted intellectual freedom during the post-Stalin thaw. His unusual rhymes and bold metaphors contrasted sharply with other Soviet poetry.

Voznesensky quickly won admirers abroad when he was allowed to travel to Europe and the United States in the 1960s, meeting Allen Ginsberg, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe and Robert Kennedy.

His innovative verse thrilled readers but irked authorities and was criticized by orthodox Soviet writers. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev once threatened to exile him, yelling at a him during a meeting with Soviet art and literary figures.

His books of poems included "The Triangular Pear," "Antiworlds," "Stained-glass Master," "Violoncello Oakleaf," "Videoms and Fortune Telling by the Book."

Some of his works were turned into theater productions, like "Antiworlds" and "Save your Faces" at the Taganka Theater, "Juno and Avos" at the Lenkom Theater and others both in Russia and abroad.

Like fellow poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Voznesensky's readings once filled stadiums, but his popularity flagged with the increasing freedom of the glasnost era in the late 1980s.

Voznesensky is survived by his wife, Zoya Boguslavskaya. He will be buried Friday in Peredelkino outside Moscow where he lived.

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Associated Press Writer Khristina Narizhnaya contributed to this report.