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Interview With Poet David Mason

Poet Dave Mason

This week an interview with Poet David Mason posted on 32 Poems, and he was a pleasure to interview because he’s one of the only poets I can remember interviewing that is involved in writing operas and other librettos for plays. 

Please check out a part of the interview below, and give him a warm welcome.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I would recite a poem by someone else. Mother Goose, for example. Then I would recite another poem by someone else. Auden or MacNeice or Dickinson, perhaps. I might ask the audience to repeat a poem after me, to join in the recitation. I wouldn’t say much of anything about myself unless I was asked in a question and answer session.

Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

Poets don’t have any obligation to do anything. Nor do readers. It’s a free country. I like a certain level of access in a poem, but I also love a whiff of mystery, a sense that the inexpressible has been cracked open or exposed to me in some way. I wouldn’t want to dispel any myths. Myths are there to cast a spell, not to be dispelled.

Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.

I’ve never had any trouble writing anywhere I’ve been in the world. I did until recently have a lovely office that used to be an artist’s studio, with north light and brick floors–a beautiful room. Now I live in a tiny cabin, 380 square feet in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, and it serves just as well. People who need the perfect space in which to write are sissies. Your brain is where you write. It’s portable.

What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers? The most exciting work involves my collaboration with composer Lori Laitman. Our first opera, The Scarlet Letter, will have its professional premiere at Opera Colorado in Denver in 2013. My libretto will be published as a book in 2012. Our oratorio, Vedem, premiered in Seattle last year and is now out on CD from Naxos. And we’re at work on an opera based on my verse novel, Ludlow. Also, I seem to be writing a lot of love poetry lately. The dam has burst.

Check out a sample of his poetry:

SEA SALT

Light dazzles from the grass
over the carnal dune.
This too shall come to pass,
but will it happen soon?
A kite nods to its string.
A cloud is happening

above the tripping waves,
joined by another cloud.
They are a crowd that moves.
The sky becomes a shroud
cut by a blade of sun.
There’s nothing to be done.

The soul, if there’s a soul
moves out to what it loves,
whatever makes it whole.
The sea stands still and moves,
denoting nothing new,
deliberating now.

The days are made of hours,
hours of instances,
and none of them are ours.
The sand blows through the fences.
Light darkens on the grass.
This too shall come to pass.

–first published in The Times Literary Supplement

Thanks, David, for answering my questions.  For the rest of the interview, visit 32 Poems.

About the Poet:

David Mason’s books include The Country I Remember, Arrivals and the verse novel, Ludlow. His book of essays, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry, appeared in 2000, and a second volume of essays has appeared from the University of Michigan Press. Author of a libretto for Lori Laitman’s opera of The Scarlet Letter, Mason won the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion Prize for the development of a new libretto. He teachers at The Colorado College and serves as Poet Laureate of Colorado.

  • Beth Hoffman

    I so enjoyed reading this! Thank you … and thank you for sharing a sample of David’s poetry.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the sample of David’s work.

  • That is a tiny cabin, but it sounds oddly appealing to me!

    • small cabins would be good to write in if you are alone…though it might be creepy

  • I’m very curious about The Scarlet Letter as an opera!

    • I agree…it would be interesting to see the scarlet letter as an opera.