A new book, “David Mason: A Critical Introduction,” part of a series of monographs on poets, explores the works of Colorado poet laureate and CC English Professor David Mason ’78.
A new book, “David Mason: A Critical Introduction,” part of a series of monographs on poets, explores the works of Colorado poet laureate and CC English Professor David Mason ’78. Throughout the book, readers learn a great deal about Mason’s life and how his experiences have influenced his poetry. His childhood and family – from close relatives to distant ancestors, his loves and losses, and his travels – the sense of rootlessness and freedom that comes with it, can be evidenced in many of Mason’s poems.
The book, written by Gregory Dowling, associate professor of American literature at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, quickly makes note of how important travel is for Mason. Mason’s book “Arrivals,” for example, contains poems set in Greece, India, Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand, as well as the eastern and western states of America. Dowling also points out however, that travel is balanced by an equal emphasis on home and family, and finds Mason’s reference to a home of driftwood a telling one. Another home/travel reference is the image of slinging “the moment’s household on your back, looking ahead at open roads and fields no crows darken.”
The monograph includes a chapter on Mason’s contributions to American poetry, as well as a critical analysis of his work, biography, and a candid interview between the author and Mason, in which Mason describes himself as “the proverbial late bloomer.”
Dowling observes that Mason’s award-winning verse novel “Ludlow” incorporates many of the themes that Mason embraces, including the memory of family stories, a sense of home and the power of place. The verse novel includes the phrase “part of her life’s inventory,” which Mason had used earlier in reference to himself, and is a fitting analogy of his poetry. The book also looks at recent poems such as Mason’s “Fathers and Sons,” which deals with his father’s Alzheimer’s and was published in The New Yorker in September 2009, and “When I Didn’t Get the News,” about his mother’s death in 2011.
The monograph is published by Story Line Press, now part of West Chester University Poetry Center, where Mason has taught for 19 years. Previous monographs feature poets Dana Gioia, Timothy Steele, Marlyn Nelson, and Rhina Espaillat. “David Mason: A Critical Introduction” is available through the publisher and at the CC bookstore.