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'Time to be grass again'

Colorado comes to Tasmania
by
November 2022, no. 448

Pacific Light by David Mason

Red Hen Press, US$17.95 pb, 96 pp

'Time to be grass again'

Colorado comes to Tasmania
by
November 2022, no. 448

Poet, essayist, and librettist David Mason grew up in Washington State, worked for many years in Colorado (where he became the state’s poet laureate) and a couple of years ago moved to Tasmania. Pacific Light, his new collection, is largely about that transition and his getting to know the landscapes and cultures of his new country.

While Mason is to be welcomed as an Australian poet (the acknowledgments here feature several Australian publications, including Australian Book Review), he is still very much an American poet, an heir to the great tradition of modern American poetry beginning with Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, going on to flourish between the wars and through to the 1970s. To those who know and love that tradition (including this reviewer), it’s a great pleasure to feel some, if not all, of those poets continuing, in a sense, to speak through him – despite Mason’s clear originality.

Robert Frost is plainly a major influence on Mason, in both subject matter and tone. The lyricism of Wallace Stevens (including his fluency with the pentameter) is also present. Theodore Roethke is likewise another presence and so too arguably, with his view out over the Pacific, is Robinson Jeffers.

A second important pleasure in Pacific Light is Mason’s way with form. He uses rhyme, for instance, in creative ways that remind us of the technique and its virtues while not being too much confined by the old rules. Readers thus gain a double satisfaction. They enjoy the echo of the old device – and the cleverness of the variations on it.

Geoff Page reviews 'Pacific Light' by David Mason

Pacific Light

by David Mason

Red Hen Press, US$17.95 pb, 96 pp

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