Roland Flint, an English professor at Georgetown for 29 years and former poet laureate of Maryland, died of cancer on Jan. 2 at his home in Kensington, Md. at the age of 66.

During his career, Flint authored six collections of poetry, contributed poems to numerous national periodicals including The Atlantic Monthly and served as poet laureate of Maryland from 1995 until October of 2000.

“In times of need, whether great or small, for whatever kind of inspiration, people who seem to be distant turn to it [poetry] for common feelings captured in uncommon language,” Flint said in a 1998 New Bay Times interview. “Things that I can’t make peace with otherwise I do by writing about.”

Born on a small potato farm in North Dakota, Flint learned about hardship at an early age when his family lost its farm during the Great Depression. After a failed attempt at college, Flint enrolled in the Marines, and served in South Korea after the Korean Conflict had ended. It was during his military service that he decided to give college a second chance, and returned to America to attend the University of North Dakota, graduating at the top of his class, according to The Washington Post.

Flint continued his education at Marquette University where he received his master’s degree, and the University of Minnesota where he received a doctorate in English.

In 1968 Flint joined the Georgetown faculty teaching English literature and creative writing. He remained a respected and gifted professor until his retirement in 1997. In 1972 the senior class honored him with the Edward B. Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence.

However, the professor’s contributions to the university ran far deeper than his work in the classroom. Flint initiated some of the first poetry readings at the University in the early 1970s, and as a result created a longstanding tradition that has brought world-renowned poets and Pulitzer Prize winners to Georgetown.

It was during the 1970s that Flint published his first collections of poetry: “And Morning” and “Say It” while continuing to teach. He followed these collections with “Resuming Green: Selected Poems 1965-1982” in 1983, “Stubborn” in 1990, “Pigeon” in 1994 and “Easy” in 1999. He also co-edited the quarterly poetry journal Poet Lore.

As poet laureate of Maryland, Flint traveled to schools throughout the state spreading his love of poetry, and made an effort to visit students who otherwise might not have the opportunity to fully understand the value of poetry due to lack of school funding.

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