Voznesensky first appeared on the Soviet literary scene in 1958, during the struggle for freedom in the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. He quickly showed his promise, and, with Yevgeny Yevtushenko, became known as one of the “angry young men” of Russian letters. At mass readings Voznesensky excited listeners with poems of rebellion and hope for renewal. With his thinly veiled allusions to historical despots he warned of a possible return to a Stalinesque reign of terror. As a consequence, he was kept under police surveillance and was reprimanded for his iconoclastic stance. However, Voznesensky couched his poems in such obscure metaphors and allusions that authorities found it difficult to charge him with treason. Thus he was spared home detention and revocation of his passport, as happened to Yevtushenko. Voznesensky could travel abroad and write his poetry relatively uncensored.
Because of his popularity and reputation, both at home and abroad, Voznesensky was instrumental in the struggle for democracy in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He continued to write poetry of high caliber, while leading the rejuvenation of Russian poetry by bringing it closer to the mainstream of world poetry.