David Mason

David Mason grew up in Bellingham, Washington and has lived in many parts of the world, including Greece and Colorado, where he served as poet laureate for four years. His books of poems began with The Buried Houses, The Country I Remember, and Arrivals. His verse novel, Ludlow, was named best poetry book of the year by the Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. It was also featured on the PBS NewsHour. He has written a memoir and four collections of essays. His poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in such periodicals as the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry, and the Hudson Review. Anthologies include Best American Poetry, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, and others. He has also written libretti for operas by Lori Laitman and Tom Cipullo, all available on CD from Naxos. In 2015 Mason published two poetry collections: Sea Salt: Poems of a Decade and Davey McGravy: Tales to Be Read Aloud to Children and Adult Children. The Sound: New and Selected Poems and Voices, Places: Essays appeared in 2018. Incarnation and Metamorphosis: Can Literature Change Us? will appear in 2023. He lives with his wife Chrissy (poet Cally Conan-Davies) in Tasmania on the edge of the Southern Ocean.

All Books

Pacific Light

David Mason

Publication Date: August 23, 2022

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280578


David Mason was born in Washington State, forty-odd degrees north latitude, and now lives on the Australian island of Tasmania, forty-odd degrees south latitude. That Pacific crossing is the work of a lifetime of devotion and change. The rich new poems of Pacific Light explore the implications of the light as well as peace and its opposing forces. What does it mean to be an immigrant and face the ultimate borders of our lives? How can we say the word home and mean it? These questions have obsessed Mason in his major narrative works, The Country I Remember and Ludlow, as well as his lyric and dramatic writing. Pacific Light is a culmination and a deepening of that work, a book of transformations, history and love, endurance and unfathomable beauty, by a poet “at the height of his powers.”


As a poet of America’s Pacific Northwest, David Mason has found its mirror reflection in Australia’s Southeast. Turned upside down by love, he has learned “to walk upright under the Southern Cross.” Generously, he extends his feeling of renewal to all of us and urges us “to let all discovery / teach us to love the globe, that troubled child.” In Pacific Light, David Mason, one of our indispensable poets, shares his discovery of a new world—and amazingly, it turns out to be this one.
—Mark Jarman, author of Dailiness and The Heronry

In the last stanza of the last poem in David Mason’s startling and soulful new book of poems, Pacific Light,the poet writes:

The effort of a life, the wasted hour,

the kind word given to a stranger’s child

are understood as kin and disappear.

Time to be grass again. Ongoing. Wild.

This stanza testifies to last things: the last journey, the last shape shifting, the last immigration in a book filled with such arrivals and departures. The formal rigor of the poems—handled with an easy and almost offhand poise—only accentuates the sense of almost constant movement, which is at the heart of the book. This book is the story of a life’s deepening and reconfiguration. As such, it both inspires and challenges the reader in ways that only poetry can do. What a pleasure to read a book of poems by a poet at the height of his powers, a poet whose life has been transformed and whose poems are the embodiment of that transformation. —Jim Moore, author of Underground: New and Selected Poems

The Sound: New & Selected Poems

David Mason

Publication Date: April 9, 2018

$21.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-613-3


In The Sound, acclaimed poet David Mason collects his best shorter work of the past forty years, including lyrics like “Song of the Powers” and darkly brilliant narratives “The Collector’s Tale” and “The Country I Remember,” which Anthony Hecht called “a welcome addition to the best that is now being written by American poets.” A poet of love and history and nature, Mason forges a language that can reconnect us to the world.


“David Mason delivers a stunning collection that places him in a unique position in American letters. With language both simple and elegant, comprehending deeply if not always comfortably the human landscape, and finding solace in the natural world, his lines remind us that pathos lies alongside humor, that profound moments are often merely a glance away, that new possibilities in the business of living arise for those bold enough to seek them. In his embrace of tradition, Mason transforms and ultimately transcends the form, making it wholly his own. A masterful poet, apart from the crowd.”—Jeffrey Lent, author of A Slant of Light

“From his first full-length narrative poem, The Country I Remember, to his extraordinary verse novel, Ludlow, David Mason’s ambition to expand the realm of narrative in contemporary verse has been central to his poetic project, even as successive collections revealed him as one of the best lyric poets of his generation.”—Charles Martin, author of Future Perfect

“One of our most authentic and accomplished poets at the top of his lyric form.”—Andrew Frisardi, author of Death of a Dissembler

Sea Salt, Poems of a Decade: 2004-2014

David Mason

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-965-3


Long regarded as one of the best narrative and dramatic poets at work in the United States, David Mason has also been regularly producing soulful lyrics. In the ten years since the publication of his last collection of shorter poems, Mason has refined his art in the fires of wrenching personal change. The result is an almost entirely new poetic voice and his most rigorous and memorable book to date. Emotionally resonant and elegant in phrasing, the poems of Sea Salt, which have appeared in publications such as Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Poetry, are a powerful evocation of crisis and change. These “poems of a decade” demonstrate that the author of Ludlow: A Verse Novel and The Scarlet Libretto is also a lyric poet at the top of his game.

Praise for Sea Salt

“In these poems of loss, discovery and love, David Mason delivers a stunning collection that places him in a unique position in American letters. With language both simple and elegant, comprehending deeply if not always comfortably the human landscape, and finding solace in the natural world, his lines remind us that pathos lies alongside humor, that profound moments are often merely a glance away, that new possibilities in the business of living arise for those bold enough to seek them. In his embrace of tradition Mason transforms and ultimately transcends the form, making it wholly his own. A masterful poet, apart from the crowd.”—Jeffrey Lent

Go to the heart of things, therein irony does not reside, Rilke tells us. These words came to my mind often as I read this newest collection from one of our country’s finest poets. Mason’s formal excellence is cause enough to celebrate these poems, but it is the emotional honesty, sentiment not sentimentality, that makes Sea Salt such a deeply moving and memorable reading experience.”—Ron Rash

The Scarlet Libretto: Opera Libretto

David Mason

Publication Date: March 1, 2012

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-170-1


In this dramatic text for Lori Laitman’s opera of The Scarlet Letter, award-winning poet David Mason, author of Ludlow and other works, has given new life in verse to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel. By distilling the book’s narrative line and adding a charged lyricism of his own, Mason has created another magnificent work in his ongoing poetic portrait of America.

Ludlow (2nd Edition)

David Mason

Publication Date: April 1, 2010

$24.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-472-6


Ludlow is a novel in verse, meaning it has the speed, concision and accuracy of the best poetry, along with the expansiveness and character development of a novel. It tells the story of a handful of immigrants—Greek, Mexican, Scottish, Italian—in southern Colorado, climaxing in the Ludlow Massacre of April 1914, in which elements of the Colorado National Guard killed striking miners and family members.

The novel follows two primary characters: the fictional Luisa Mole, orphaned in the opening chapter, who must choose between life among the miners and the middle-class family who adopt her; and the historical figure Louis Tikas, a Cretan immigrant who, in the course of the book, becomes a labor organizer and a Ludlow martyr. But several minor characters—Too Tall MacIntosh, Lefty Calabrini, George Reed and his family, and even John D. Rockefeller, Jr.–also play significant roles in the book, which never succumbs to simplistic political pieties, but is engaged with identity and being.

The author also appears in the book, guiding the story in time, allowing us to look at events from the vantage point of the whole century, and to understand both the personal import of the story and the profound difficulty of ever knowing the truth about such events. In a sense, the characters are more grounded and real than he is, as he tells the story in order to hold onto his own identity in the West. The book ends long after the massacre, with America changed by more wars and upheaval, in a scene where Mason comes to know Luisa Mole more fully and imaginatively.

Ludlow is a searing story told with great art, and a major contribution to the literature of the American West.

News from the Village

David Mason

Publication Date: April 1, 2010

$20.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-471-9


In his twenties, an American manual laborer and poet found himself living with his beautiful wife in a village in southern Greece. Their first encounter with that country would prove an unrecoverable dream of intimate magic, but through decades of steadfast affection, poet David Mason grew to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a citizen of one’s own country and a citizen of the world. News from the Village is a lyrical memoir of Aegean friends, including such figures as Orhan Pamuk, Bruce Chatwin, Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke and Patrick Leigh Fermor, each of whom comes fully alive, along with a brilliant cast of lesser-known characters. Fearing he has lost Greece and everything it has meant in his life, Mason goes back again and again to the country he knew as a young man. He encounters Turkey and Greece together in the shadow of 9-11, follows the lives of his friends, whose trials sometimes surpass his own. Ultimately, Mason’s marvelous book is about what we can hold and what slips away, what sustains us all through our griefs and disappointments. This book is richly evocative and rare.


The New Criterion reviews News from the Village

The New Criterion has a nice review up of David Mason’s lyrical memoir, News from the Village: Aegean Friends. Here’s a taste: “In one of the book’s most eloquent passages, […]

David Mason named Poet Laureate of Colorado!

David Mason, author of Ludlow and News From the Village, has been named the next Poet Laureate of the great state of Colorado! Press release here. Some downloadabe info here. From the Governer’s Office: GOV. RITTER TO […]


PACIFIC LIGHT by David Mason featured in Review 31

A strong poetic sensibility is combined with a successful conversational style in several insightful accounts of familiar situations, like seeing people in airports that one thinks one knows (‘Long Haul’), […]

David Mason’s PACIFIC LIGHT Reviewed in LA Review of Books!

A POET KNOWN for his narratives, like Ludlow, the acclaimed historical-novel-in-verse turned opera, David Mason curates the archipelago of intensely satisfying lyric poems in Pacific Light with the skill of a consummate storyteller. […]