POWELL, Wyoming — Big Horn Basin residents are invited to explore the Basque immigrant experience in America through words and music at a convocation hosted Wednesday, Aug. 26, by the Northwest College Music Department.
Award-winning author and musician David Romtvedt will read from his new novel and perform music from the Basque culture that inspired it in a 50-minute presentation beginning at noon in Room 29 of the Nelson Performing Arts Center on campus.
Romtvedt’s novel, “Zelestina Urza in Outer Space,” follows the turn-of-the-century story about a young Basque immigrant who leaves her impoverished family to come to Wyoming. Her destiny becomes tangled in the dark side of the Manifest Destiny mindset through her relationship with a Cheyenne Arapaho dispossessed after Wounded Knee.
The novel and the Basque music that serves as its soundtrack has been described by author Kim Barnes as “full of magical invention, driving emotion and sustained notes of grace—an intimate and adventurous journey defined by dislocation, violence and redemption.”
A Pushcart Prize winner, Romtvedt is a former Wyoming Poet Laureate and author of the National Poetry Series selection “A Flower Whose Name I Do Not Know.”
Area residents may recognize Romtvedt as the driving force (and button accordion player) with The Wyoming Fireants Band, known for their raucous repertoire of dance music of the Americas. The group has performed several times in Park County. Romtvedt is joined in the musical part of his program by fellow Fireant Caitlin Belem.
This event is made possible by the University of Nevada Center for Basque Studies, with support from the Johnson County (Wyoming) Library Foundation, the Caitlin Long Excellence Fund, the University of Wyoming English Department and the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.
Admission is free.