The writer, poet and dramatist Sergei Tret'iakov was a central figure of the early Soviet literary and artistic avant-garde. Born in 1892 in Kuldiga, a town in what is now Latvia and was then the Governorate of Courland, one of the three Baltic provinces of the Russian empire, he was educated in prerevolutionary Riga and Moscow. Fluent also in Latvian and German, he started out as a poet in Russian and came under the influence of futurism when living in Vladivostok in 1919. During the Russian Civil War, Tret'iakov spent several months in Harbin, Tianjin, and Beijing in 1920 and 1921, and he returned to China as a teacher of Russian at Peking University between 1924 and 1925. The mid-1920s were also his most productive period as a writer for the theatre. Back in the Soviet Union, he went on to write experimental documentary prose, reportage and film scenarios while making radical statements in literary theory. He collaborated closely with the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), the cinema director Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) and the theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), and as a translator and critic he brought the plays and poetry of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) to Soviet readers.