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.