OBIT: David Martinson, 63, NDSU English teacher, poet
FARGO Even as he drew his last breaths, David Martinson's words rung out. The poet, teacher and influential figure in the region's literary scene died Sunday after a six-month battle with cancer. At the same time, friends gathered at Zandbroz Var...
Even as he drew his last breaths, David Martinson's words rung out.
The poet, teacher and influential figure in the region's literary scene died Sunday after a six-month battle with cancer. At the same time, friends gathered at Zandbroz Variety in Fargo to read his works and favorite pieces.
"As a poet, David leaves behind a remarkable body of poetry," says Greg Danz, whose store, Zandbroz, looked across the street to Martinson's regional and rare book store, Great Northern Books. "We lost our resident historian, keeper of a lot of book knowledge for our part of the world."
Martinson, who would've turned 64 on Thursday, taught English and creative writing at North Dakota State University for more than 20 years.
As a student there, he befriended professor Steve Ward, who was dubious when he heard Martinson was a poet.
"I read some of his work, and my god, he was the real thing," the retired instructor said Monday.
"He could be very difficult as a teacher and a poet," said former student Shadd Piehl, now an associate poet laureate of North Dakota. "He expected a lot from people and expected them to take things seriously. He had a deep passion for words and literature and poetry and introduced so many great writers."
Martinson published Piehl and more prominent poets like Robert Bly and Larry Woiwode in his literary collections, Aluminum Canoe. He also was a tireless supporter of his late mentor Tom McGrath.
"The guy was an extraordinary power for literature in the area," Ward said of Martinson, adding that his friend would be remembered for his "generosity and spirit."
"He wrote really good poems, and we'll be reading them for a long time," said Cindy Nichols, Martinson's colleague at NDSU.
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