One of six children born to a North Dakota potato farmer who had lost the family farm early during the Depression, Roland Henry Flint spent his formative years working strenuous farm jobs. Such physically demanding work taught Flint toughness and discipline but also connected him to the cycles of the living earth, to its physical beauty and its harshness. After his first try at college proved unsuccessful, he enlisted in the Marines and served in Korea just after the war. Walking guard duty by an ammunition dump one Christmas night, he resolved with epiphanic clarity that when he returned stateside he would take college seriously. After earning his B.A. from the University of North Dakota-Grand Forks in 1958, where he wrote his first poems, he received his master’s degree from Marquette University in 1960 and then his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1968. He taught in both postgraduate positions, and he grew to love the dynamics of a classroom and the opportunity to explore the craft of writing with students. He joined the faculty of Georgetown University in 1968 and taught literature and creative writing with distinction, retiring in 1997.
Although he published poetry in journals for more than twenty years, he did not release his first volume until his early forties. Flint often quoted James Wright: “I want poetry to be beautiful, but if it doesn’t speak of the hell in our lives, it leaves me cold.” Although Flint’s poetry...
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