This special tribute was written by Keith Armstrong, a long-time friend and fellow poet, before William's death. It is followed by a poem entitled 'There are those who sing', written later...
I've been involved, one way or another, with 'poetry' since c1970.
I must have organised over 1000 poetry readings and read myself at around the same number of public events.
That means I have suffered an awful lot.
Most poets are weak performers. As Michael Mould of Bruvvers Theatre Company once said: 'Well, at least Keith Armstrong moves about a bit!'
More often than not, though, poetry readings are an exercise in the failure to communicate.
But there are exceptions - one of whom is William Martin.
I like my poetry to sing, to rise up from the mundane, touch the spirit and reach the very heavens. Bill's poetry does that.
Rooted in the soil and the grime of the coalfield, it celebrates that worthy culture but also builds a cathedral of soaring words.
Bill has long been an inspiration to me. I value his wisdom and his craft and learn from it. He is a good friend and, I sincerley believe, a good man.
I have shared drinks with him throughout the north east - and even bumped into him on holiday in Bulgaria! Fate meant our souls to meet.
We are 'men you don't meet everyday'. We are poets and singers too who seek to move an audience with our soulful craft, who desire a poetry reading to live long in the memory. Men who reach for the very stars.
William Martin, I am of your planet. I am in your choir. With all my heart, I salute you.
Whitley Bay. July 3rd 2009.