ludlowcover

Not that anyone ever doubts a poet’s ability to make a living, but … sheesh! Local Poet David Mason just won a pretty spectacular prize from the University of Oklahoma! Says The Norman Transcript:

Poet David Mason, a professor of English at Colorado College, recently was named the 2009 Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion Prize recipient.

The $40,000 will allow Mason to focus more time on creating the libretto for the opera adaptation of his verse novel Ludlow.

The Creativity in Motion prize is a biennial prize honoring the creative process given by the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences.

Mason previously teamed with composer Lori Laitman for the 2008 opera Scarlet Letter, her first full-length opera. This will be their second project together.

Opera is a new addition to Mason’s career as a poet. With nine books written and edited, and poems published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New Republic, The Nation, etc., Mason was inspired to adapt Ludlow after his experience with the libretto for Laitman’s Scarlet Letter.

Ludlow tells the story of a handful of immigrants — Greek, Italian, Scottish, Mexican — caught up in a labor struggle in southern Colorado, culminating in the Ludlow Massacre of April 1914.

While the monetary prize is certainly an eye-popper in poetry terms, make no mistake that the undertaking is Herculean. As Mason, also a Professor of English Literature at Colorado College, wrote in his proposal for the grant:

Turning this book into an opera libretto will be an even greater challenge than The Scarlet Letter. I’ve got to take a vast narrative canvas, something of a modern epic, and rethink the book as a series of dramatic scenes building relentlessly toward a disastrous moment in American history. I’ve got to rethink my own use of verse technique, both free and metered verse, and the kind of diction possible for sing-able lines. I’ve got to think musically as well, using the possibilities of chorus, aria, duet, trio, quartet, etc.

All this is to say nothing of the superhuman efforts the composer will have to make. Lori Laitman prefers to be inspired by the words when she composes, and has a particular gift for honoring the cadences of language in her music. If our previous experience is any indication, we will be lucky to have piano and orchestral scores completed in time for a 2011 premiere. Once the original producers at UCA [University of Central Arkansas] have their shot at the opera, we will of course try very hard to get it staged around the country.

Ultimately, what we hope to achieve is a great American opera, a work that brings new audiences to both music and literature, and new awareness of this historical event. We want to grow as artists within our own media and through collaboration with each other, the singers and musicians and stage directors we encounter. Opera is a great art form because it brings almost all other art forms together in a spectacle of intense energy and emotional charge. We think Ludlow’s story deserves such treatment and are eager to get started on the work.

You can read the rest of the story from The Norman Transcript HERE, and you can listen to Dave Mason read a passage from Ludlow right here. Just click on the arrow below:

davemason-credit-annelennox
(photo by Anne Lennox)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Get your copy of Ludlow HERE.

(We like feedback. Please leave comments below or send us an email to suggest other Big Something: thebigsomething@krcc.org. If you enjoy The Big Something, please click the “Share This” button below and invite friends to enjoy it too. Thanks!)

 

One Response to If Only You'd Been a Poet!

  1. […] College Professor, Trinidad native and author of the much-lauded epic historical poem Ludlow—did just that: He got a poem published in what is probably the best-read magazine in the country […]

News

AP
May 24, 2017 | NPR · In the early 20th century, kids with the disease faced severe malnutrition, even death. The banana-based diet doctors came up with seemed to cure them — but led kids back to foods that made them sick.
 

Leon Neal/Getty Images
May 24, 2017 | NPR · An attack like this scares women into submission, says ElsaMarie D’Silva, who works to stop street harassment in India.
 

May 24, 2017 | NPR · It’s been 31 years since Top Gun. Cruise told an Australian TV show that a sequel will start filming “probably in the next year.”
 

Arts & Life

May 24, 2017 | NPR · It’s been 31 years since Top Gun. Cruise told an Australian TV show that a sequel will start filming “probably in the next year.”
 

Shannon Wright for NPR
May 24, 2017 | NPR · Our famous summer reader poll is back, and this year we’re all about comics and graphic novels! Whether it’s your childhood favorite or the webcomic you binged last week, we want to know about it.
 

NPR
May 24, 2017 | NPR · Detroit garage-rocker Josh Malerman’s second novel follows a fictional 1950s rock bad recruited by the government to find the source of a mysterious, ominous sound emanating from the Namib Desert.
 

Music

YouTube
May 24, 2017 | NPR · The North Texas trio reaches across humankind with a body-rattling, desert-swept heft. Watch a gorgeous black-and-white video for The Angelus’ brooding and beautiful track.
 

Getty Images
May 24, 2017 | NPR · In the wake of the bombing on Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert, venues have stepped up security, a promoter laments the imperfect security and social media is useful and harmful — again.
 

Courtesy of the artists
May 24, 2017 | NPR · Big Boi, CeeLo and Big Rube unite for a powerful visual from the new Organized Noize EP.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab