Craig Werner's Reviews > Ludlow

Ludlow by David  Mason
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: poetry, west
Read from January 03 to 05, 2012

This book-length poem (the author calls it a "verse novel") builds on the basic facts of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre, in which eighteen people (most of them women and children) were murdered by members of the Colorado National Guard, protecting the mining interests (and ideological commitments) of John D. Rockefeller. Along with the Sand Creek Massacre, it's among the most brutal episodes in Colorado history, and I've been a bit shocked at how many people I've mentioned it to have never heard of it. For that reason alone, Ludlow is worth reading, but it's also a tour-de-force performance, some 600 stanzas of iambic pentamer (mostly unrhymed) which flow with a vernacular sureness that recalls Frost's story poems ("Home Burial," "The Witche of Coos"). Mason freely mixes historical events with invented characters. While he doesn't hammer the political message, it's hard not to make connections between the events he describes and the current assaults on the dignity of working people (in and out of unions). There aren't a whole lot of lines that stick in memory, but well worth the time for anyone intersted in the literature of labor and/or the West.
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01/04 page 70
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