‘Pacific Light: Poems of Renewal by David Mason’, a film by Anna Cadden with underwater photography by Cally Conan-Davies, is a meditation on life, work, poetry and the soul. Poems are from David’s book Pacific Light (Red Hen Press, 2022), available through https://bookshop.org/books/pacific-li…
David Mason was born in Washington State, forty-odd degrees north latitude, and now lives on the Australian island of Tasmania, forty-odd degrees south latitude. That Pacific crossing is the work of a lifetime of devotion and change. The rich new poems of Pacific Light explore the implications of the light as well as peace and its opposing forces. What does it mean to be an immigrant and face the ultimate borders of our lives? How can we say the word home and mean it? These questions have obsessed Mason in his major narrative works, The Country I Remember and Ludlow, as well as his lyric and dramatic writing. Pacific Light is a culmination and a deepening of that work, a book of transformations, history and love, endurance and unfathomable beauty, by a poet “at the height of his powers.”
The film—23 minutes in length—is a very thoughtful, professionally-designed production, & I particularly enjoyed listening to David’s reminiscences of how he’s configured ways to live a life….
[DAVID MASON] ‘I don’t really have ideas so much as I have sensations. Keats said, “Oh for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts”, and I suppose to a very great degree that’s the way that I live as a poet. And what I try to do is define the words that are going to match those sensations and the rhythms I’m feeling, the sounds….’
[INTERVIEWER] ‘So—what is to you, the work of poetry? What is its purpose, in a way—if work gives us purpose, what is the job that poetry does in this world?’
[MASON]: ‘There are several different things. One is what it does for the poet’s life. I think it’s DH Lawrence who said, “I write so that I will not lose my life”. So one feels as if one is trying to live more fully, or relive more fully—you want more life. You want to live more—by observing more, writing more, seeing more, and all that….’
‘I don’t write just for myself. I write to speak to other people, and to speak across time to people I’ve never met about what it’s like to be alive in the world. I want to make memorable speech out of this, maybe even memorable song out of this. Which means, that to some extent, we write to face our mortality. Or we are always facing our mortality when we write. We’re always thinking about what it means to speak through that death and across that death, into another time, and to other people.’
David will be appearing as a guest of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in Launceston at the end of the month.