Good Poems: “Wyoming I Do Not Own,” by David Romtvedt

David Romtvedt was Wyoming’s Poet Laureate from 2003 to 2011.  He also teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming.

It’s a little strange I’ve never met him, given that we live in the same town. When I attended the University of Wyoming in the mid-90s, I was writing short stories and scripts. So I never had the honor of taking a class from him.

That’s unfortunate for me since I’ve admired his poems for awhile.

In his poem poem called “Wyoming I Do Not Own,” Romtvedt takes on the always-present (it seems) Wyoming winter.   Here are a few lines near the end of the poem:

Winter is not winter. The blue sky draws me up
to Cloud Peak. I have forgotten my skis and so tuck
my hands in my pockets, curl up in a ball and roll
down the mountain to town where I rise from my slide
at my back door. I touch the knob. It is cold!
I knock and when the door opens, walk on in.

I love where Romtvedt decides to break his lines in this poem–up, tuck, roll, slide, cold, in. These words alone would make a nice little minimalist poem. It’s also a lesson for poets: where you break your line matters.

Also, the phrase “winter is not winter” has a power I still feel every time I read the line.

The poem comes from Romtvedt’s collection Certainty, published in 1996, right around the time I should have been studying with this great Wyoming poet.


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