Like a "tentative, unknown
chord," the atmospherics of Holaday Mason ravel, unravel as hauntingly as Kodaly or Bartok,
marking a lush, iridescent descent into "neither...this world / nor the next, but both." This
lyric realm is evoked through an almost aching precision of image and music, set to flickering
shifts in consciousness and context. As psychologically acute and revealing as they are
simply, blindingly beautiful, these poems invite us into a world in which the ineffable is, in fact,
as sensual as the world of phenomena--which we can revel in, desire and (almost) name.
The landscape of Holaday Mason's poems is most often a haunted, nocturnal landscape, a landscape of broken dreaming and falling blossoms, of shadows that
shift with the wind, an erotic and dangerous and beautiful place. Mason shows us a world
that's dark and graceful, full of human doom, and of love. She writes with a breathtaking
—sometimes breathless—lyricism, with extravagant passion and with unflinching nerve.
Reading Holaday Mason’s
Towards the Forest, one feels in the hands of someone driven, someone who knows
her way around the interior life of the mind and the imagination, one who takes risks and
is brave. There's not a false note or false step, each emotion deeply felt and ringing true.
In images memorable and sharp as cut-glass, she lays down her "beauties" in ways that
reverberate, leading us to a finish that surprises—like the cop hidden behind the billboard
—because we didn't expect truth’s reckoning to be waiting there for us. My impression on
first reading this collection and with each subsequent reading was “Wow! This is poetry.”
These poems glow like topaz against a half light of
dream. Holaday Mason’s first book might easily be her tenth book, so assured is it, so fully
in possession of its luminous, nearly hallucinatory terrain. “The Bullet Train,” “Seven Pairs
of Swans,” “He Kneels at the Pond Near Ophelia’s Corpse” —these richly sensuous poems,
and many others, touch down to a solitude so deep that, paradoxically, it embraces the
whole world. In Towards the Forest we find as well our own deepest hungers and wisdom.
Read poems from Towards the Forest