Poet of the Month: David Mason
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David Mason was born in Bellingham, Washington, on December
11, 1954. His father was a pediatrician (formerly a Naval officer), his
mother a professor of psychology at the local college. He grew up
surrounded by bookish people who were also active skiers, mountain
climbers and sailors. But his family was troubled, and by the time Mason
entered the sixth grade his parents had separated.
In 1973, Mason began studies at The Colorado College. In high
school his primary interest had been theatre, but in College he thought of
himself as a writer. After the freshman year, he left school and spent seven
months unloading crab and shrimp boats in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, earning
more than enough money to spend another seven months hitchhiking the
perimeter of the British Isles, with visits to Ireland, France and Spain.
When he returned to college in 1975, he studied with new purpose, and
also began a novel set in Alaska.
He married Jonna Heinrich in April 1978, and later they moved to
her hometown, Rochester, New York, where Mason worked as a gardener,
writing in his spare time, and his wife worked in her father's business. In
August 1979, his older brother, Douglas, was killed while climbing Mt.
Shuksan in Washington State. His younger brother, Donald, had been on
the climb, but was not injured.
In 1980-81, Mason and his wife lived for thirteen months in a small
Greek village, returning to the US when his Alaskan novel had been
optioned by a film company and he had been hired to write the screenplay.
Working in LA, Bellingham and Rochester, Mason pursued the life of a
professional writer until the company closed its film division and paid off
his contract. He tried part-time teaching at The Colorado College, and in
1989, after failing to make a living at anything else, he began graduate
studies at The University of Rochester, where one of his teachers was a
poet he had long admired, Anthony Hecht. At the same time, his first
marriage failed. Divorce and the death of his brother became major subjects
in his writing, but he also maintained his interest in narratives of other
In 1988 he married Anne Lennox, a photojournalist, and the
following year, his Ph.D. completed, they moved to Moorhead, Minnesota,
where he teaches at Moorhead State University. Since then, he has
produced essays, reviews, stories, poems and translations for such
periodicals as The Hudson Review, Grand Street, Poetry, The Southern
Review and The New Criterion. His books are The Buried Houses (1991),
The Country I Remember (1996) and, with Mark Jarman, Rebel Angels: 25
Poets of the New Formalism (1996), all from Story Line Press. There have
also been several chapbooks and limited editions. Winner of The Nicholas
Roerich Poetry Prize and The Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay Di
Castagnola Award, he has been a Fulbright Writer-in-Residence in Greece,
and has also taught at The Wesleyan Writer's Conference, The West
Chester Conference, The Colorado College and the Kerry International
Summer School in Ireland.
Currently he is completing a book of essays, The Poetry of Life and
the Life of Poetry, due out from Story Line in 1999, and is at work on a
book of stories, a new collection of poems, a book-length memoir of
Greece, a translation of Greek poet Yiorgos Chouliaras, and, with John
Frederick Nims, the 4th Edition of Western Wind, a poetry textbook. He
lives in Moorhead, where his wife works as a freelance photographer. His
stepdaughter, Darcy, is grown up and lives with her husband in