ROME — Edoardo Sanguineti, a poet, critic and intellectual whose playful use of language made him an important neo-avant-garde figure on Italy's 1960s literary scene, died on Tuesday in a Genoa hospital.

Doctors at Villa Scassi hospital said Sanguineti, 79, died there following emergency surgery for an abdominal aneurysm.

In the early 1960s, Sanguineti helped found and influence the so-called "Gruppo 63," in which experimental poetry explored what he considered the "dissolution" of daily language.

In a tribute, President Giorgio Napolitano recalled how he came to know and appreciate Sanguineti when the two were Communist lawmakers in Parliament from 1979-1983. State TV said Sanguineti liked to call himself "the last Marxist."

Feltrinelli, which published much of his work, hailed him as a "stubborn and intelligent critical conscience of our time, a craftsman of language and formidable poet of provocation and play."

Sanguineti, who was born in Genoa in 1930, was an expert on Dante, taught literature at several Italian universities, wrote plays and essays as well as poems.

His first book of poetry, "Laborintus," was published in 1956, and he went on to publish several more volumes, as well as two novels.

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi hailed Sanguineti as a "fundamental voice of Italian literature in the latter half of the 20th century." Sanguineti often imbued his poetry "with civil and political commitment, as in the best 20th century tradition," Bondi said.

In a recent interview, Sanguineti said the role of the poet is, in some way, to help explain the world. He was particularly passionate about class struggle, recently lamenting that "the political situation is disastrous, with a mass of proletarians and underclass proletarians in extreme difficulty, and who no longer are aware that they are."