JERUSALEM (AP) _ David Avidan, a poet, playwright and screenplay writer known for inventiveness with the Hebrew language and a sexually outspoken style, died on Thursday. He was 61.

Avidan's body was found by a friend in his Tel Aviv apartment. The writer suffered from asthma, but the cause of death was not immediately known.

Avidan published 30 collections of poems and wrote four short films. In 1971, his film ``Sex'' appeared at the Cannes Film Festival. Last year, he won the prestigious Bialik Poetry Award in Israel.

Avidan was a leading member of a modern generation of Israeli poets who took liberties with Hebrew and helped the biblical tongue evolve into a modern, living language.

Despite his accomplishments, Avidan was unable to support himself financially. In June 1994, Israelis were shocked by TV reports showing his squalid living conditions.

``I have no doubt that the lovers of poetry and the Hebrew language are mourning his death,'' said Communications and Culture Minister Shulamit Aloni in a statement. ``The man and the poet David Avidan is remain forever planted in the culture of the Hebrew language.''