“How are voices like places? They move through us as we move through them.”
Celebrated poet David Mason explores surprising connections in geography and time, considering writers who traveled, who emigrated or were exiled, and who often shaped the literature of their homelands. He writes of seasoned travelers (Patrick Leigh Fermor, Bruce Chatwin, Joseph Conrad, Herodotus himself), and writers as far flung as Omar Khayyam, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, James Joyce, and Les Murray. In the end, he turns to his own native region, the American West, with Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey, Robinson Jeffers, Belle Turnbull, and Thomas McGrath.
These essays are about familiarity and estrangement, the pleasure and knowledge readers can gain by engaging with writers’ lives, their travels, their trials, and the homes they make for themselves.
"What makes this grand work of criticism is Mason’s own voice . . . Mason reveals a glorious passion for literature, as well as an almost Whitmanesque openness to the ideas and emotions that inspire creative acts at all levels."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"A combination of penetrating considerations of renowned and out-of-fashion poets and keen appreciations of the interplay of landscape and culture . . . Clearly, reading (and writing) is a form of travel and transcendence for the author, who conveys this feeling in erudite, often intoxicating language . . . Attached to the notion that all places are stories and all stories places, Mason . . . draws an illuminating literary cartography with many fascinating ports of call.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Mason expertly weaves the stories of great writers and places both ancient and new together into an imaginative literary odyssey . . . Throughout, Mason reminds the reader that travel writing should not be reduced to a lesser genre, and, from Herodotus to W.H. Auden, has been an important literary tradition that enables us to explore the world through reading. This special collection leaves readers with a sense of wanderlust and a refreshing new lens through which to view literature and travel."—Publishers Weekly
"A collection of literary essays with a personal spin, as enjoyably unpredictable in their subject matter as the poems."
—The Times Literary Supplement
"Voices, Places is a collection of essays on travelling and writing, and in every one of them his sentences sing."
"Mason finds poetry while exploring the world."—The American Scholar
"Thoughtful and thought-provoking, engaged and engaging."—Midwest Book Review
"Mason is inspiring in his clarity and capaciousness, his embrace of dualities, his love of language, and in his own curiosity, attentiveness and hunger for life. He challenges our comfort zones."—Woven Tale Press
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David Mason is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Sea Salt and Davey McGravy; a memoir, News from the Village; and a verse novel, Ludlow. A former Fulbright fellow to Greece, he lives in Colorado and Oregon and teaches at Colorado College.
Read an excerpt from Voices, Places on The American Scholar.
Listen to Ryan Warner interview David Mason on Colorado Public Radio.
Read "David Mason on the Power of Poetry" in The Sun.