Ludlow poster, designed by Esther Wu

David Mason and I have begun work on our second opera together, based on his verse-novel Ludlow. This book was published in 2007, reprinted in 2010, and named best poetry book of the year by the Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It was also featured on the PBS News Hour.

In 2009, David received the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Award for Creativity in Motion, awarded by The University of Oklahoma. The prize was given to David specifically to create the libretto for this opera.


The epic story of Ludlow is based on the 1913-14 coal-mining wars of southern Colorado. To protest brutal working conditions, scores of miners went on strike and erected a tent colony in Ludlow. The colony was burned by The Colorado National Guard and more than a dozen innocent people, mostly women and children, perished in the “Ludlow Massacre.” News of the tragedy spread like wildfire across America, and the resulting outrage led to important reforms in America’s labor laws. Weaving in-and-out of these historical events is “The Poet,” a contemporary character whose presence creates an atmosphere of “time” itself.

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