Gunars Saliņš (April 21, 1924 – June 29, 2010) was a modernist poet within the Latvian lyric poetry tradition. He became a leading voice of the “Hell’s Kitchen” artists (“Elles ķēķis) – a Latvian emigre artist community in the U.S. which flourished in the 1950s and 60s, named after the neighborhood in New York where it originated. In his youth he was inspired by the Latvian poet Aleksandrs Čaks, and later by writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Guillaume Apollinaire, Federico Garcia Lorca, Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot.
Saliņš’ imagery playfully explored transformational and metaphysical elements in this world and beyond, often incorporating personal experiences with allusions to myth, art, and ancient Latvian folklore – a process he referred to as “orpheism”. Gunars Saliņš’ poetry was widely circulated within the Latvian diaspora post-WWII; later his work was rediscovered and championed in Latvia in the post-Soviet era. In 2000 Saliņš was awarded the Order of the Three Stars, for lifetime cultural achievement, by the Republic of Latvia.