If writing poetry seems like a sure trip to the unemployment line, then calling your work a "verse-novel" must be the fastest way to the speedy-express checkout line. But a very brash fellow has published an epic account in blank pentameter (more than 600 eight-line stanzas' worth) of one of the darkest chapters in Colorado history, and the result is not only readable but stunning.
David Mason is a widely published poet, essayist and English professor at Colorado College with strong family ties to southern Colorado. His new book, Ludlow (Red Hen Press, $18.95), is a work of fiction, but evokes historical figures, including doomed labor activist Louis Tikas, to explore the 1914 massacre of striking miners in the coalfields outside Trinidad. The language is robust, the narrative crackling with Homeric power and vivid enough to bring the place and the period to life. Or, as Mason puts it: "Imagination's arrogance is all/ I bring to this, a storyteller's hope/of touching life in others."
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Book Buffs, 1519 South Pearl Street, hosts a reading of Ludlow by the author Thursday night, May 10, at 7 pm. If you care about poetry or Colorado history, or just thirst for good writing, check it out. –Alan Prendergast