Thursday, March 05, 2009

Poet wraps up 2009 Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming Legislature ended its 2009 session with a reading -- and a bit of accordion playing -- from our poet laureate, David Romtvedt of Buffalo.

David's one of those multi-talented guys who writes great poetry, plays an assortment of musical instruments (solo and with his band, Fireants), teaches a broad array of college courses and is bilingual. He's attempting to become multilingual, taking courses in the Basque language. It's not an easy language, having roots back to Europe's earliest (and now defunct) tongues. David just returned from the Basque County and had a new song for the legislature.

It was a fandango, which he played on a new Basque accordion and sang in the native language. Members of the Wyoming House and senate were attentive as David performed, and then read a new poem, "The Age of Risk." He also thanked the legislature for their ongoing support of the arts, arts education and the Wyoming Arts Council.

This is the fifth year David's been a guest at the legislature. Usually he performs earlier in the session in order to charge up its members for any arts-related bills on the docket. He may be a good luck charm, as the Wyoming Arts Council's budget has gone up during that same time. And it has nothing to do with multimillion-dollar budget surpluses due to taxes on extractive energy projects. Just a coincidence...

This evening, David was set to talk poetry and accordion at Hobbs Elementary School's "Night of Arts," along with Aussie storyteller Paul Taylor from Laramie and several other artists. That's the school my kids attended. While there, they received a good background in the arts. My son played the trumpet and my daughter, the violin. Lots of writing in the classroom, as well as Young Authors and "Letters About Literature" contests.

After David's legislative appearance, I asked him about the Basque song. He said it was a song by a Basque songwriting team. The subject was the first woman Palestinian suicide bomber who died during the Arab-Israeli clashes. He translated the words, and noted that there is no judgement in the song, no taking sides on whether the bomber was good or bad. Just the story of her dying. It seemed an odd song to be playing to our very conservative legislature. David said he would have told them what it was about, but nobody asked.

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