Before Weltzien took the stage, University of Montana Western Senior Matthew Amos read a short story from his creative writing thesis.
The story follows Theresa, a rare enthusiast of counter-culture in a small town, as she attempts to fall in love with the exceedingly ordinary Maki.
Amos described Maki as follows: “Average assumes that there are many others like him which is false. To be so bland could be considered an achievement if it was something people strived for, but no one ever would, and Maki certainly didn’t.”
Weltzien first read from “Thinking Continental,” a book he contributed to and co-edited.
The University of Nebraska Press website describes the book’s theme: “In response to the growing scale and complexity of environmental threats, this volume collects articles, essays, personal narratives, and poems by more than forty authors in conversation about ‘thinking continental’—connecting local and personal landscapes to universal systems and processes—to articulate the concept of a global or planetary citizenship.”
Weltzien’s piece, “Three Stations on the Ring of Fire,” is about “how the Ring of Fire is unified in a way that’s nearly beyond our imagining,” he said.
On his fascination with volcanoes, Weltzien said, “they connect us with the Earth’s interiority and our own.”
Next he read from a deeply personal essay he wrote about the last three weeks of his mother’s life.
In one poignant moment from “The Comfort Pathway,” he watches his mother struggle to eat hospital applesauce and reminisces about how good her own once was, “generous with apple chunks and cinnamon.”
He ended his set reading a selection of poetry which included “Swinger,” a poem that satirizes his failed attempts at gentlemanly swagger during a high school date.
He also read “Fire and Flood,” a particularly lyrical fever dream of destruction that juxtaposes the hurricanes in the southern United States with the wildfires of Montana.
The “Dances with Words” series continues throughout each academic year. For upcoming readings, please visit our upcoming Events page.